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Set up and electrotyped. Published February, 1899 Reprinted 
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New edition printed February, 1912; December, 1915. 


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IT is the purpose of this inquiry to discuss the place 
and value of the leisure class as an economic factor 
in modern life, but it has been found impracticable 
to confine the discussion strictly within the limits so 
marked out. Some attention is perforce given to the 
origin and the line of derivation of the institution, as 
well as to features of social life that are not commonly 
classed as economic. 

At some points the discussion proceeds on grounds of 
economic theory or ethnological generalisation that may 
be in some degree unfamiliar. The introductory chap- 
ter indicates the nature of these theoretical premises 
sufficiently, it is hoped, to avoid obscurity. A more 
explicit statement of the theoretical position involved 
is made in a series of papers published in Volume IV 
of the American Journal of Sociology, on "The Instinct 
of Workmanship and the Irksomeness of Labour," "The 
Beginnings of Ownership," and "The Barbarian Status 
of Women." But the argument does not rest on these 
in part novel generalisations in such a way that 
it would altogether lose its possible value as a detail 
of economic theory in case these novel generalisations 
should, in the reader's apprehension, fall away through 
being insufficiently backed by authority or data. 

vi Preface 

Partly for reasons of convenience, and partly because 
there is less chance of misapprehending the sense of 
phenomena that are familiar to all men, the data 
employed to illustrate or enforce the argument have 
by preference been drawn from everyday life, by direct 
observation or through common notoriety, rather than 
from more recondite sources at a farther remove. It is 
hoped that no one will find his sense of literary or 
scientific fitness offended by this recourse to homely 
facts, or by what may at times appear to be a callous 
freedom in handling vulgar phenomena or phenomena 
whose intimate place in men's life has sometimes 
shielded them from the impact of economic discussion. 

Such premises and corroborative evidence as are 
drawn from remoter sources, as well as whatever articles 
of theory or inference are borrowed from ethnological 
science, are also of the more familiar and accessible 
kind and should be readily traceable to their source by 
fairly well-read persons. The usage of citing sources 
and authorities has therefore not been observed. Like- 
wise the few quotations that have been introduced, 
chiefly by way of illustration, are also such as will 
commonly be recognised with sufficient facility without 
the guidance of citation. 














viii Contents 













THE institution of a leisure class is found in its best 
development at the higher stages of the barbarian 
culture ; as, for instance, in feudal Europe or feudal 
Japan. In such communities the distinction between 
classes is very rigorously observed ; and the feature 
of most striking economic significance in these class 
differences is the distinction maintained between the 
employments proper to the several classes. The upper 
classes are by custom exempt or excluded from indus- 
trial occupations, and are reserved for certain employ- 
ments to which a degree of honour attaches. Chief 
among the honourable employments in any feudal com- 
munity is warfare; and priestly service is commonly 
second to warfare. If the barbarian community is not 
notably warlike, the priestly office may take the prece- 
dence, with that of the warrior second. But the rule 
holds with but slight exceptions that, whether warriors 
or priests, the upper classes are exempt from industrial 
employments, and this exemption is the economic ex- 
pression of their superior rank. Brahmin India affords 

B I 

2 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

a fair illustration of the industrial exemption of both 
these classes. In the communities belonging to the 
higher barbarian culture there is a considerable differ- 
entiation of sub-classes within what may be compre- 
hensively called the leisure class ; and there is a 
corresponding differentiation of employments between 
these sub-classes. The leisure class as a whole com- 
prises the noble and the priestly classes, together with 
much of their retinue. The occupations of the class 
are correspondingly diversified; but they have the 
common economic characteristic of being non-industrial. 
These non-industrial upper-class occupations may be 
roughly comprised under government, warfare, religious 
observances, and sports. 

At an earlier, but not the earliest, stage of barbarism, 
the leisure class is found in a less differentiated form. 
Neither the class distinctions nor the distinctions be- 
tween leisure-class occupations are so minute and intri- 
cate. The Polynesian islanders generally show this 
stage of the development in good form, with the 
exception that, owing to the absence of large game, 
hunting does not hold the usual place of honour in their 
scheme of life. The Icelandic community in the time 
of the Sagas also affords a fair instance. In such a 
community there is a rigorous distinction between 
classes and between the occupations peculiar to each 
class. Manual labour, industry, whatever has to do 
directly with the everyday work of getting a livelihood, 
is the exclusive occupation of the inferior class. This 
inferior class includes slaves and other dependents, and 
ordinarily also all the women. If there are several 

Introductory 3 

grades of aristocracy, the women of high rank are com- 
monly exempt from industrial employment, or at least 
from the more vulgar kinds of manual labour. The men 
of the upper classes are not only exempt, but by pre- 
scriptive custom they are debarred, from all industrial 
occupations. The range of employments open to them 
is rigidly defined. As on the higher plane already 
spoken of, these employments are government, warfare, I 
religious observances, and sports. These four lines of 
activity govern the scheme of life of the upper classes, 
and for the highest rank the Icings or chieftains 
these are the only kinds of activity that custom or the 
common sense of the community will allow. Indeed, 
where the scheme is well developed even sports are 
accounted doubtfully legitimate for the members of the 
highest rank. To the lower grades of the leisure class 
certain other employments are open, but they are em- 
ployments that are subsidiary to one or another of these 
typical leisure-class occupations. Such are, for instance, 
the manufacture and care of arms and accoutrements 
and of war canoes, the dressing and handling of horses, 
dogs, and hawks, the preparation of sacred apparatus, 
etc. The lower classes are excluded from these second- 
ary honourable employments, except from such as are 
plainly of an industrial character and are only remotely 
related to the typical leisure-class occupations. 

If we go a step back of this exemplary barbarian 
culture, into the lower stages of barbarism, we no longer 
find the leisure class in fully developed form. But this 
lower barbarism shows the usages, motives, and circum- 
stances out of which the institution of a leisure class 

4 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

has arisen, and indicates the steps of its early growth. 
Nomadic hunting tribes in various parts of the world 
illustrate these more primitive phases of the differentia- 
tion. Any one of the North American hunting tribes 
may be taken as a convenient illustration. These tribes 
can scarcely be said to have a defined leisure class. 
There is a differentiation of function, and there is a 
distinction between classes on the basis of this differ- 
ence of function, but the exemption of the superior class 
from work has not gone far enough to make the desig- 
nation " leisure class " altogether applicable. The 
tribes belonging on this economic level have carried the 
economic differentiation to the point at which a marked 
distinction is made between the occupations of men and 
women, and this distinction is of an invidious character. 
In nearly all these tribes the women are, by prescrip- 
tive custom, held to those employments out of which 
the industrial occupations proper develop at the next 
advance. The men are exempt from these vulgar em- 
ployments and are reserved for war, hunting, sports, 
and devout observances. A very nice discrimination is 
ordinarily shown in this matter. 

This division of labour coincides with the distinction 
between the working and the leisure class as it appears 
in the higher barbarian culture. As the diversification 
and specialisation of employments proceed, the line of 
demarcation so drawn comes to divide the industrial 
from the non-industrial employments. The man's occu- 
pation as it stands at the earlier barbarian stage is not 
the original out of which any appreciable portion of 
later industry has developed. In the later development 

Introductory 5 

it survives only in employments that are not classed 
as industrial, war, politics, sports, learning, and the 
priestly office. The only notable exceptions are a 
portion of the fishery industry and certain slight 
employments that are doubtfully to be classed as 
industry; such as the manufacture of arms, toys, 
and sporting goods. Virtually the whole range of 
industrial employments is an outgrowth of what is 
classed as woman's work in the primitive barbarian 

The work of the men in the lower barbarian culture 
is no less indispensable to the life of the group than the 
work done by the women. It may even be that the 
men's work contributes as much to the food supply and 
the other necessary consumption of the group. Indeed, 
so obvious is this " productive " character of the men's 
work that in the conventional economic writings the 
hunter's work is taken as the type of primitive industry. 
But such is not the barbarian's sense of the matter. 
In his own eyes he is not a labourer, and he is not to be 
classed with the women in this respect ; nor is his effort 
to be classed with the women's drudgery, as labour or 
industry, in such a sense as to admit of its being con- 
founded with the latter. There is in all barbarian com- 
munities a profound sense of the disparity between 
man's and woman's work. His work may conduce to 
the maintenance of the group, but it is felt that it 
does so through an excellence and an efficacy of a kind 
that cannot without derogation be compared with the 
uneventful diligence of the women. 

At a farther step backward in the cultural scale 

6 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

among savage groups the differentiation of employ- 
ments is still less elaborate and the invidious distinction 
between classes and employments is less consistent and 
less rigorous. Unequivocal instances of a primitive 
savage culture are hard to find. Few of those groups 
or communities that are classed as " savage " show no 
traces of regression from a more advanced cultural 
stage. But there are groups some of them appar- 
ently not the result of retrogression which show the 
traits of primitive savagery with some fidelity. Their 
culture differs from that of the barbarian communities 
in the absence of a leisure class and the absence, in 
great measure, of the animus or spiritual attitude on 
which the institution of a leisure class rests. These 
communities of primitive savages in which there is no 
hierarchy of economic classes make up but a small and 
inconspicuous fraction of the human race. As good an 
instance of this phase of culture as may be had is af- 
forded by the tribes of the Andamans, or by the Todas 
of the Nilgiri Hills. The scheme of life of these groups 
at the time of their earliest contact with Europeans 
seems to have been nearly typical, so far as regards the 
absence of a leisure class. As a further instance might 
be cited the Ainu of Yezo, and, more doubtfully, also 
some Bushman and Eskimo groups. Some Pueblo com- 
munities are less confidently to be included in the same 
class. Most, if not all, of the communities here cited may 
well be cases of degeneration from a higher barbarism, 
rather than bearers of a culture that has never risen 
above its present level. If so, they are for the present 
purpose to be taken with allowance, but they may serve 

Introductory 7 

none the less as evidence to the same effect as if they 
were really "primitive" populations. 

These communities that are without a defined leisure 
class resemble one another also in certain other features 
of their social structure and manner of life. They are 
small groups and of a simple (archaic) structure ; they 
are commonly peaceable and sedentary ; they are poor ; 
and individual ownership is not a dominant feature of 
their economic system. At the same time it does not 
follow that these are the smallest of existing communi- 
ties, or that their social structure is in all respects the 
least differentiated ; nor does the class necessarily in- 
clude all primitive communities which have no defined 
system of individual ownership. But it is to be noted 
that the class seems to include the most peaceable 
perhaps all the characteristically peaceable primitive 
groups of men. Indeed, the most notable trait common 
to members of such communities is a certain amiable 
inefficiency when confronted with force or fraud. 

The evidence afforded by the usages and cultural 
traits of communities at a low stage of development 
indicates that the institution of a leisure class has 
emerged gradually during the transition from primitive 
savagery to barbarism ; or more precisely, during the 
transition from a peaceable to a consistently warlike 
habit of life. The conditions apparently necessary to 
its emergence in a consistent form are: (i) the com- 
munity must be of a predatory habit of life (war or the 
hunting of large game or both) ; that is to say, the men, 
who constitute the inchoate leisure class in these cases, 
must be habituated to the infliction of injury by force 

8 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

and stratagem ; (2) subsistence must be obtainable on 
sufficiently easy terms to admit of the exemption of a 
considerable portion of the community from steady 
application to a routine of labour. The institution of a 
leisure class is the outgrowth of an early discrimination 
between employments, according to which some employ- 
ments are worthy and others unworthy. Under this 
ancient distinction the worthy employments are those 
which may be classed as exploit ; unworthy are those 
necessary everyday employments into which no appre- 
ciable element of exploit enters. 

This distinction has but little obvious significance in 
a modern industrial community, and it has, therefore, 
received but slight attention at the hands of economic 
writers. When viewed in the light of that modern 
common sense which has guided economic discussion, 
it seems formal and insubstantial. But it persists with 
great tenacity as a commonplace preconception even in 
modern life, as is shown, for instance, by our habitual 
aversion to menial employments. It is a distinction of a 
personal kind of superiority and inferiority. In the 
earlier stages of culture, when the personal force of the 
individual counted more immediately and obviously in 
shaping the course of events, the element of exploit 
counted for more in the everyday scheme of life. In- 
terest centred about this fact to a greater degree. 
Consequently a distinction proceeding on this ground 
seemed more imperative and more definitive then than 
is the case to-day. As a fact in the sequence of devel- 
opment, therefore, the distinction is a substantial one 
and rests on sufficiently valid and cogent grounds. 

Introductory 9 

The ground on which a discrimination between facts 
is habitually made changes as the interest from which 
the facts are habitually viewed changes. Those feat- 
ures of the facts at hand are salient and substantial 
upon which the dominant interest of the time throws 
its light. Any given ground of distinction will seem 
insubstantial to any one who habitually apprehends 
the facts in question from a different point of view and 
values them for a different purpose. The habit of dis- 
tinguishing and classifying the various purposes and 
directions of activity prevails of necessity always and 
everywhere ; for it is indispensable in reaching a work- 
ing theory or scheme of life. The particular point of 
view, or the particular characteristic that is pitched upon 
as definitive in the classification of the facts of life de- 
pends upon the interest from which a discrimination 
of the facts is sought. The grounds of discrimination, 
and the norm of procedure in classifying the facts, 
therefore, progressively change as the growth of culture 
proceeds ; for the end for which the facts of life are 
apprehended changes, and the point of view conse- 
quently changes also. So that what are recognised as 
the salient and decisive features of a class of activities 
or of a social class at one stage of culture will not retain 
the same relative importance for the purposes of classi- 
fication at any subsequent stage. 

But the change of standards and points of view is 
gradual only, and it seldom results in the subversion or 
entire suppression of a standpoint once accepted. A 
distinction is still habitually made between industrial 
and non-industrial occupations ; and this modern dis- 

IO The Theory of the Leisure Class 

tinction is a transmuted form of the barbarian distinc- 
tion between exploit and drudgery. Such employments 
as warfare, politics, public worship, and public merry- 
making, are felt, in the popular apprehension, to differ 
intrinsically from the labour that has to do with elabo- 
rating the material means of life. The precise line of 
demarcation is not the same as it was in the early 
barbarian scheme, but the broad distinction has not 
fallen into disuse. 

The tacit, common-sense distinction to-day is, in ef- 
fect, that any effort is to be accounted industrial only 
so far as its ultimate purpose is the utilisation of non- 
human things. The coercive utilisation of man by man 
is not felt to be an industrial function ; but all effort 
directed to enhance human life by taking advantage of 
the non-human environment is classed together as in- 
dustrial activity. By the economists who have best 
retained and adapted the classical tradition, man's 
"power over nature" is currently postulated as the 
characteristic fact of industrial productivity. This indus- 
trial power over nature is taken to include man's power 
over the life of the beasts and over all the elemental 
forces. A line is in this way drawn between mankind 
and brute creation. 

In other times and among men imbued with a different 
body of preconceptions, this line is not drawn precisely 
as we draw it to-day. In the savage or the barbarian 
scheme of life it is drawn in a different place and in 
another way. In all communities under the barbarian 
culture there is an alert and pervading sense of antithe- 
sis between two comprehensive groups of phenomena, in 

Introductory I r 

one of which barbarian man includes himself, and in the 
other, his victual. There is a felt antithesis between 
economic and non-economic phenomena, but it is not 
conceived in the modern fashion ; it lies not between 
man and brute creation, but between animate and inert 

It may be an excess of caution at this day to explain 
that the barbarian notion which it is here intended to 
convey by the term "animate" is not the same as would 
be conveyed by the word "living." The term does not 
cover all living things, and it does cover a great many 
others. Such a striking natural phenomenon as a storm, 
a disease, a waterfall, are recognised as " animate " ; 
while fruits and herbs, and even inconspicuous animals, 
such as house-flies, maggots, lemmings, sheep, are not 
ordinarily apprehended as "animate" except when taken 
collectively. As here used the term does not neces- 
sarily imply an indwelling soul or spirit. The concept 
includes such things as in the apprehension of the ani- 
mistic savage or barbarian are formidable by virtue of a 
real or imputed habit of initiating action. This category 
comprises a large number and range of natural objects 
and phenomena. Such a distinction between the inert 
and the active is still present in the habits of thought 
of unreflecting persons, and it still profoundly affects 
the prevalent theory of human life and of natural pro- 
cesses; but it does not pervade our daily life to the 
extent or with the far-reaching practical consequences 
that are apparent at earlier stages of culture and belief. 

To the mind of the barbarian, the elaboration and 
utilisation of what is afforded by inert nature is activity 

12 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

on quite a different plane from his dealings with " ani- 
mate " things and forces. The line of demarcation may 
be vague and shifting, but the broad distinction is suffi- 
ciently real and cogent to influence the barbarian scheme 
of life. To the class of things apprehended as animate, 
the barbarian fancy imputes an unfolding of activity 
directed to some end. It is this teleological unfolding 
of activity that constitutes any object or phenomenon 
an "animate" fact. Wherever the unsophisticated 
savage or barbarian meets with activity that is at all 
obtrusive, he construes it in the only terms that are 
ready to hand the terms immediately given in his 
consciousness of his own actions. Activity is, therefore, 
assimilated to human action, and active objects are in 
so far assimilated to the human agent. Phenomena of 
this character especially those whose behaviour is 
notably formidable or baffling have to be met in a 
different spirit and with proficiency of a different kind 
from what is required in dealing with inert things. To 
deal successfully with such phenomena is a work of 
exploit rather than of industry. It is an assertion of 
prowess, not of diligence. 

Under the guidance of this naive discrimination be- 
tween the inert and the animate, the activities of the 
primitive social group tend to fall into two classes, 
which would in modern phrase be called exploit and 
industry. Industry is effort that goes to create a new 
thing, with a new purpose given it by the fashioning 
hand of its maker out of passive ("brute") material; 
while exploit, so far as it results in an outcome useful 
to the agent, is the conversion to his own ends of 

Introductory 13 

energies previously directed to some other end by an- 
other agent. We still speak of "brute matter" with 
something of the barbarian's realisation of a profound 
significance in the term. 

The distinction between exploit and drudgery coin- 
cides with a difference between the sexes. The sexes 
differ, not only in stature and muscular force, but per- 
haps even more decisively in temperament, and this 
must early have given rise to. a corresponding division 
of labour. The general range of activities that come 
under the head of exploit falls to the males as being 
the stouter, more massive, better capable of a sudden 
and violent strain, and more readily inclined to self- 
assertion, active emulation, and aggression. The dif- 
ference in mass, in physiological character, and in 
temperament may be slight among the members of the 
primitive group ; it appears, in fact, to be relatively 
slight and inconsequential in some of the more archaic 
communities with which we are acquainted as for 
instance the tribes of the Andamans. But so soon as 
a differentiation of function has well begun on the lines 
marked out by this difference in physique and animus, 
the original difference between the sexes will itself 
widen. A cumulative process of selective adaptation 
to the new distribution of employments will set in, 
especially if the habitat or the fauna with which the 
group is in contact is such as to call for a considerable 
exercise of the sturdier virtues. The habitual pursuit 
of large game requires more of the manly qualities of 
massiveness, agility, and ferocity, and it can therefore 
scarcely fail to hasten and widen the differentiation of 

14 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

functions between the sexes. And so soon as the 
group comes into hostile contact with other groups, the 
divergence of function will take on the developed form 
of a distinction between exploit and industry. 

In such a predatory group of hunters it comes to be 
the able-bodied men's office to fight and hunt. The 
women do what other work there is to do other mem- 
bers who are unfit for man's work being for this purpose 
classed with the women. But the men's hunting and 
fighting are both of the same general character. Both 
are of a predatory nature ; the warrior and the hunter 
alike reap where they have not strewn. Their aggres- 
sive assertion of force and sagacity differs obviously 
from the women's assiduous and uneventful shaping of 
materials ; it is not to be accounted productive labour, 
but rather an acquisition of substance by seizure. Such 
being the barbarian man's work, in its best develop- 
ment and widest divergence from women's work, any 
effort that does not involve an assertion of prowess 
comes to be unworthy of the man. As the tradition 
gains consistency, the common sense of the community 
erects it into a canon of conduct ; so that no employ- 
ment and no acquisition is morally possible to the self- 
respecting man at this cultural stage, except such as 
proceeds on the basis of prowess force or fraud. 
When the predatory habit of life has been settled upon 
the group by long habituation, it becomes the able- 
bodied man's accredited office in the social economy 
to kill, to destroy such competitors in the struggle for 
existence as attempt to resist or elude him, to overcome 
and reduce to subservience those alien forces that assert 

Introductory 1 5 

themselves refractorily in the environment. So tena- 
ciously and with such nicety is this theoretical dis- 
tinction between exploit and drudgery adhered to that 
in many hunting tribes the man must not bring home 
the game which he has killed, but must send his woman 
to perform that baser office. 

As has already been indicated, the distinction be- 
tween exploit and drudgery is an invidious distinction 
between employments. Those employments which are 
to be classed as exploit are worthy, honourable, noble; 
other employments, which do not contain this element 
of exploit, and especially those which imply subservi- 
ence or submission, are unworthy, debasing, ignoble. 
The concept of dignity, worth, or honour, as applied 
either to persons or conduct, is of first-rate conse- 
quence in the development of classes and of class dis- 
tinctions, and it is therefore necessary to say something 
of its derivation and meaning. Its psychological ground 
may be indicated in outline as follows. 

As a matter of selective necessity, man is an agent. 
He is, in his own apprehension, a centre of unfolding 
impulsive activity " teleological " activity. He is an 
agent seeking in every act the accomplishment of some 
concrete, objective, impersonal end. By force of his 
being such an agent he is possessed of a taste for effec- 
tive work, and a distaste for futile effort. He has a 
sense of the merit of serviceability or efficiency and of 
the demerit of futility, waste, or incapacity. This apti- 
tude or propensity may be called the instinct of work- 
manship. Wherever the circumstances or traditions of 

1 6 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

life lead to an habitual comparison of one person with 
another in point of efficiency, the instinct of workman- 
ship works out in an emulative or invidious comparison 
of persons. The extent to which this result follows 
depends in some considerable degree on the tempera- 
ment of the population. In any community where such 
an invidious comparison of persons is habitually made, 
visible success becomes an end sought for its own utility 
as a basis of esteem. Esteem is gained and dispraise 
is avoided by putting one's efficiency in evidence. The 
result is that the instinct of workmanship works out in 
an emulative demonstration of force. 

During that primitive phase of social development, 
when the community is still habitually peaceable, per- 
haps sedentary, and without a developed system of indi- 
vidual ownership, the efficiency of the individual can be 
shown chiefly and most consistently in some employ- 
ment that goes to further the life of the group. What 
emulation of an economic kind there is between the 
members of such a group will be chiefly emulation in 
industrial serviceability. At the same time the incen- 
tive to emulation is not strong, nor is the scope for 
emulation large. 

When the community passes from peaceable savagery 
to a predatory phase of life, the conditions of emulation 
change. The opportunity and the incentive to emula- 
tion increase greatly in scope and urgency. The ac- 
tivity of the men more and more takes on the character 
of exploit ; and an invidious comparison of one hunter 
or warrior with another grows continually easier and 
more habitual. Tangible evidences of prowess tro- 

Introductory 17 

phies find a place in men's habits of thought as an 
essential feature of the paraphernalia of life. Booty, 
trophies of the chase or of the raid, come to be prized 
as evidence of preeminent force. Aggression becomes 
the accredited form of action, and booty serves as prima 
facie evidence of successful aggression. As accepted 
at this cultural stage, the accredited, worthy form of 
self-assertion is contest ; and useful articles or services 
obtained by seizure or compulsion, serve as a conven- 
tional evidence of successful contest. Therefore, by 
contrast, the obtaining of goods by other methods than 
seizure comes to be accounted unworthy of man in his 
best estate. The performance of productive work, or 
employment in personal service, falls under the same 
odium for the same reason. An invidious distinction 
in this way arises between exploit and acquisition by 
seizure on the one hand and industrial employment on 
the other hand. Labour acquires a character of irk- 
someness by virtue of the indignity imputed to it. 

With the primitive barbarian, before the simple con- 
tent of the notion has been obscured by its own ramifi- 
cations and by a secondary growth of cognate ideas, 
"honourable " seems to connote nothing else than asser- 
tion of superior force. " Honourable " is " formidable " ; 
"worthy" is "prepotent." A honorific act is in the 
last analysis little if anything else than a recognised 
successful act of aggression ; and where aggression 
means conflict with men and beasts, the activity which 
comes to be especially and primarily honourable is the 
assertion of the strong hand. The naive, archaic habit 
of construing all manifestations of force in terms of 

1 8 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

personality or "will power" greatly fortifies this con- 
ventional exaltation of the strong hand. Honorific epi- 
thets, in vogue among barbarian tribes as well as among 
peoples of a more advanced culture, commonly bear the 
stamp of this unsophisticated sense of honour. Epithets 
and titles used in addressing chieftains, and in the pro- 
pitiation of kings and gods, very commonly impute a 
propensity for overbearing violence and an irresistible 
devastating force to the person who is to be propi- 
tiated. This holds true to an extent also in the more 
civilised communities of the present day. The predi- 
lection shown in heraldic devices for the more rapa- 
cious beasts and birds of prey goes to enforce the same 

Under this common-sense barbarian appreciation of 
worth or honour, the taking of life the killing of formi- 
dable competitors, whether brute or human is honour- 
able in the highest degree. And this high office of 
slaughter, as an expression of the slayer's prepotence, 
casts a glamour of worth over every act of slaughter 
and over all the tools and accessories of the act. Arms 
are honourable, and the use of them, even in seeking the 
life of the meanest creatures of the fields, becomes a 
honorific employment. At the same time, employment 
in industry becomes correspondingly odious, and, in the 
common-sense apprehension, the handling of the tools 
and implements of industry falls beneath the dignity of 
able-bodied men. Labour becomes irksome. 

It is here assumed that in the sequence of cultural 
evolution primitive groups of men have passed from an 

Introductory 19 

initial peaceable stage to a subsequent stage at which 
fighting is the avowed and characteristic employment 
of the group. But it is not implied that there has been 
an abrupt transition from unbroken peace and good-will 
to a later or higher phase of life in which the fact of 
combat occurs for the first time. Neither is it implied 
that all peaceful industry disappears on the transition to 
the predatory phase of culture. Some fighting, it is safe 
to say, would be met with at any early stage of social 
development. Fights would occur with more or less 
frequency through sexual competition. The known 
habits of primitive groups, as well as the habits of the 
anthropoid apes, argue to that effect, and the evidence 
from the well-known promptings of human nature 
enforces the same view. 

It may therefore be objected that there can have 
been no such initial stage of peaceable life as is here 
assumed. There is no point in cultural evolution prior 
to which fighting does not occur. But the point in 
question is not as to the occurrence of combat, occa- 
sional or sporadic, or even more or less frequent and 
habitual; it is a question as to the occurrence of an 
habitual bellicose frame of mind a prevalent habit of 
judging facts and events from the point of view of the 
fight. The predatory phase of culture is attained only 
when the predatory attitude has become the habitual 
and accredited spiritual attitude for the members of the 
group; when the fight has become the dominant note 
in the current theory of life; when the common-sense 
appreciation of men and things has come to be an appre- 
ciation with a view to combat. 

2O The Theory of the Leisure Class 

The substantial difference between the peaceable and 
the predatory phase of culture, therefore, is a spiritual 
difference, not a mechanical one. The change in 
spiritual attitude is the outgrowth of a change in the 
material facts of the life of the group, and it comes on 
gradually as the material circumstances favourable to a 
predatory attitude supervene. The inferior limit of the 
predatory culture is an industrial limit. Predation can- 
not become the habitual, conventional resource of any 
group or any class until industrial methods have been 
developed to such a degree of efficiency as to leave 
a margin worth fighting for, above the subsistence of 
those engaged in getting a living. The transition from 
peace to predation therefore depends on the growth of 
technical knowledge and the use of tools. A predatory 
culture is similarly impracticable in early times, until 
weapons have been developed to such a point as to 
make man a formidable animal. The early develop- 
ment of tools and of weapons is of course the same 
fact seen from two different points of view. 

The life of a given group would be characterised as 
peaceable so long as habitual recourse to combat has not 
brought the fight into the foreground in men's every- 
day thoughts, as a dominant feature of the life of man. 
A group may evidently attain such a predatory attitude 
with a greater or less degree of completeness, so that 
its scheme of life and canons of conduct may be con- 
trolled to a greater or less extent by the predatory 
animus. The predatory phase of culture is therefore 
conceived to come on gradually, through a cumulative 
growth of predatory aptitudes, habits, and traditions; 

Introductory 2 1 

this growth being due to a change in the circumstances 
of the group's life, of such a kind as to develop and 
conserve those traits of human nature and those tradi- 
tions and norms of conduct that make for a predatory 
rather than a peaceable life. 

The evidence for the hypothesis that there has been 
such a peaceable stage of primitive culture is in great 
part drawn from psychology rather than from ethnology, 
and cannot be detailed here. It will be recited in part 
in a later Chapter, in discussing the survival of archaic 
traits of human nature under the modern culture. 



IN the sequence of cultural evolution the emergence 
of a leisure class coincides with the beginning of owner- 
ship. This is necessarily the case, for these two institu- 
tions result from the same set of economic forces. In 
the inchoate phase of their development they are but 
different aspects of the same general facts of social 

It is as elements of social structure conventional 
facts that leisure and ownership are matters of inter- 
est for the purpose in hand. An habitual neglect of 
work does not constitute a leisure class ; neither does 
the mechanical fact of use and consumption constitute 
ownership. The present inquiry, therefore, is not con- 
cerned with the beginning of indolence, nor with the 
beginning of the appropriation of useful articles to 
individual consumption. The point in question is the 
origin and nature of a conventional leisure class on the 
one hand and the beginnings of individual ownership as 
a conventional right or equitable claim on the other hand. 

The early differentiation out of which the distinction 
between a leisure and a working class arises is a divi- 
sion maintained between men's and women's work in the 
lower stages of barbarism. Likewise the earliest form 
of ownership is an ownership of the women by the able- 

Pecuniary Emulation 23 

bodied men of the community. The facts may be ex- 
pressed in more general terms, and truer to the import 
of the barbarian theory of life, by saying that it is an 
ownership of the woman by the man. 

There was undoubtedly some appropriation of useful 
articles before the custom of appropriating women arose. 
The usages of existing archaic communities in which 
there is no ownership of women is warrant for such a 
view. In all communities the members, both male and 
female, habitually appropriate to their individual use a 
variety of useful things ; but these useful things are not 
thought of as owned by the person who appropriates 
and consumes them. The habitual appropriation and 
consumption of certain slight personal effects goes on 
without raising the question of ownership ; that is to 
say, the question of a conventional, equitable claim to 
extraneous things. 

The ownership of women begins in the lower barba- 
rian stages of culture, apparently with the seizure of 
female captives. The original reason for the seizure 
and appropriation of women seems to have been their 
usefulness as trophies. The practice of seizing women 
from the enemy as trophies, gave rise to a form of 
ownership-marriage, resulting in a household with a 
male head. This was followed by an extension of 
slavery to other captives and inferiors, besides women, 
and by an extension of ownership-marriage to other 
women than those seized from the enemy. The out- 
come of emulation under the circumstances of a preda- 
tory life, therefore, has been on the one hand a form 
of marriage resting on coercion, and on the other hand 

24 The Theory of the Leisttre Class 

the custom of ownership. The two institutions are 
not distinguishable in the initial phase of their develop- 
ment ; both arise from the desire of the successful men 
to put their prowess in evidence by exhibiting some 
durable result of their exploits. Both also minister to 
that propensity for mastery which pervades all predatory 
communities. From the ownership of women the con- 
cept of ownership extends itself to include the products 
of their industry, and so there arises the ownership of 
things as well as of persons. 

In this way a consistent system of property in goods 
is gradually installed. And although in the latest stages 
of the development, the serviceability of goods for con- 
sumption has come to be the most obtrusive element of 
their value, still, wealth has by no means yet lost its 
utility as a honorific evidence of the owner's prepotence. 

Wherever the institution of private property is found, 
even in a slightly developed form, the economic process 
bears the character of a struggle between men for the 
possession of goods. It has been customary in eco- 
nomic theory, and especially among those economists 
who adhere with least faltering to the body of moder- 
nised classical doctrines, to construe this struggle for 
wealth as being substantially a struggle for subsistence. 
Such is, no doubt, its character in large part during the 
earlier and less efficient phases of industry. Such is 
also its character in all cases where the " niggardliness 
of nature " is so strict as to afford but a scanty liveli- 
hood to the community in return for strenuous and 
unremitting application to the business of getting the 

Pecuniary Emulation 25 

means of subsistence. But in all progressing commu- 
nities an advance is presently made beyond this early 
stage of technological development. Industrial effi- 
ciency is presently carried to such a pitch as to afford 
something appreciably more than a bare livelihood to 
those engaged in the industrial process. It has not 
been unusual for economic theory to speak of the 
further struggle for wealth on this new industrial basis 
as a competition for an increase of the comforts of life, 
primarily for an increase of the physical comforts 
which the consumption of goods affords. 

The end of acquisition and accumulation is conven- 
tionally held to be the consumption of the goods accu- 
mulated whether it is consumption directly by the 
owner of the goods or by the household attached to 
him and for this purpose identified with him in theory. 
This is at least felt to be the economically legitimate 
end of acquisition, which alone it is incumbent on the 
theory to take account of. Such consumption may 
of course be conceived to serve the consumer's physical 
wants his physical comfort or his so-called higher 
wants spiritual, aesthetic, intellectual, or what not ; 
the latter class of wants being served indirectly by an 
expenditure of goods, after the fashion familiar to all 
economic readers. 

But it is only when taken in a sense far removed 
from its naive meaning that consumption of goods can 
be said to afford the incentive from which accumulation 
invariably proceeds. The motive that lies at the root 
of ownership is emulation ; and the same motive of 
emulation continues active in the further development 

26 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

of the institution to which it has given rise and in the 
development of all those features of the social struct- 
ure which this institution of ownership touches. The 
possession of wealth confers honour ; it is an invidious 
distinction. Nothing equally cogent can be said for the 
consumption of goods, nor for any other conceivable 
incentive to acquisition, and especially not for any in- 
centive to the accumulation of wealth. 

It is of course not to be overlooked that in a com- 
munity where nearly all goods are private property the 
necessity of earning a livelihood is a powerful and ever- 
present incentive for the poorer members of the com- 
munity. The need of subsistence and of an increase of 
physical comfort may for a time be the dominant motive 
of acquisition for those classes who are habitually 
employed at manual labour, whose subsistence is on 
a precarious footing, who possess little and ordinarily 
accumulate little ; but it will appear in the course of 
the discussion that even in the case of these impecuni- 
ous classes the predominance of the motive of physical 
want is not so decided as has sometimes been assumed. 
On the other hand, so far as regards those members 
and classes of the community who are chiefly concerned 
in the accumulation of wealth, the incentive of subsist- 
ence or of physical comfort never plays a considerable 
part Ownership began and grew into a human insti- 
tution on grounds unrelated to the subsistence minimum. 
The dominant incentive was from the outset the invidi- 
ous distinction attaching to wealth, and, save tempora- 
rily and by exception, no other motive has usurped the 
primacy at any later stage of the development. 

Pecuniary Emulation 27 

Property set out with being booty held as trophies 
of the successful raid. So long as the group had de- 
parted but little from the primitive communal organi- 
sation, and so long as it still stood in close contact 
with other hostile groups, the utility of things or per- 
sons owned lay chiefly in an invidious comparison 
between their possessor and the enemy from whom 
they were taken. The habit of distinguishing between 
the interests of the individual and those of the group 
to which he belongs is apparently a later growth. 
Invidious comparison between the possessor of the 
honorific booty and his less successful neighbours within 
the group was no doubt present early as an element 
of the utility of the things possessed, though this was 
not at the outset the chief element of their value. The 
man's prowess was still primarily the group's prowess, 
and the possessor of the booty felt himself to be pri- 
marily the keeper of the honour of his group. This 
appreciation of exploit from the communal point of 
view is met with also at later stages of social growth, 
especially as regards the laurels of war. 

But so soon as the custom of individual ownership 
begins to gain consistency, the point of view taken in 
making the invidious comparison on which private 
property rests will begin to change. Indeed, the one 
change is but the reflex of the other. The initial phase 
of ownership, the phase of acquisition by naive seizure 
and conversion, begins to pass into the subsequent stage 
of an incipient organisation of industry on the basis 
of private property (in slaves); the horde develops 
into a more or less self-sufficing industrial community ; 

28 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

possessions then come to be valued not so much as 
evidence of successful foray, but rather as evidence of 
the prepotence of the possessor of these goods over 
other individuals within the community. The invidious 
comparison now becomes primarily a comparison of 
the owner with the other members of the group. 
Property is still of the nature of trophy, but, with the 
cultural advance, it becomes more and more a trophy 
of successes scored in the game of ownership carried 
on between the members of the group under the quasi- 
peaceable methods of nomadic life. 

Gradually, as industrial activity further displaces 
predatory activity in the community's everyday life 
and in men's habits of thought, accumulated property 
more and more replaces trophies of predatory exploit as 
the conventional exponent of prepotence and success. 
With the growth of settled industry, therefore, the pos- 
session of wealth gains in relative importance and effec- 
tiveness as a customary basis of repute and esteem. 
Not that esteem ceases to be awarded on the basis of 
other, more direct evidence of prowess ; not that suc- 
cessful predatory aggression or warlike exploit ceases 
to call out the approval and admiration of the crowd, or 
to stir the envy of the less successful competitors ; but 
the opportunities for gaining distinction by means of 
this direct manifestation of superior force grow less 
available both in scope and frequency. At the same 
time opportunities for industrial aggression, and for the 
accumulation of property by the quasi-peaceable methods 
of nomadic industry, increase in scope and availability. 
And it is even more to the point that property now 

Pecuniary Emulation 29 

becomes the most easily recognised evidence of a repu- 
table degree of success as distinguished from heroic or 
signal achievement. It therefore becomes the conven- 
tional basis of esteem. Its possession in some amount 
becomes necessary in order to any reputable standing 
in the community. It becomes indispensable to accu- 
mulate, to acquire property, in order to retain one's 
good name. When accumulated goods have in this way 
once become the accepted badge of efficiency, the pos- 
session of wealth presently assumes the character of an 
independent and definitive basis of esteem. The pos- 
session of goods, whether acquired aggressively by one's 
own exertion or passively by transmission through in- 
heritance from others, becomes a conventional basis of 
reputability. The possession of wealth, which was at 
the outset valued simply as an evidence of efficiency, 
becomes, in popular apprehension, itself a meritorious 
act. Wealth is now itself intrinsically honourable and 
confers honour on its possessor. By a further refine- 
ment, wealth acquired passively by transmission from 
ancestors or other antecedents presently becomes even 
more honorific than wealth acquired by the possessor's 
own effort; but this distinction belongs at a later stage 
in the evolution of the pecuniary culture and will be 
spoken of in its place. 

Prowess and exploit may still remain the basis of 
award of the highest popular esteem, although the 
possession of wealth has become the basis of common- 
place reputability and of a blameless social standing. 
The predatory instinct and the consequent approbation 
of predatory efficiency are deeply ingrained in the habits 

30 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

of thought of those peoples who have passed under the 
discipline of a protracted predatory culture. According 
to popular award, the highest honours within human 
reach may, even yet, be those gained by an unfolding 
of extraordinary predatory efficiency in war, or by a 
quasi-predatory efficiency in statecraft ; but for the 
purposes of a commonplace decent standing in the 
community these means of repute have been replaced 
by the acquisition and accumulation of goods. In 
order to stand well in the eyes of the community, it is 
necessary to come up to a certain, somewhat indefinite, 
conventional standard of wealth ; just as in the earlier 
predatory stage it is necessary for the barbarian man to 
come up to the tribe's standard of physical endurance, 
cunning, and skill at arms. A certain standard of wealth 
in the one case, and of prowess in the other, is a neces- 
sary condition of reputability, and anything in excess of 
this normal amount is meritorious. 

Those members of the community who fall short of 
this, somewhat indefinite, normal degree of prowess or 
of property suffer in the esteem of their fellow-men ; 
and consequently they surfer also in their own esteem, 
since the usual basis of self-respect is the respect ac- 
corded by one's neighbours. Only individuals with an 
aberrant temperament can in the long run retain their 
self-esteem in the face of the disesteem of their fellows. 
Apparent exceptions to the rule are met with, especially 
among people with strong religious convictions. But 
these apparent exceptions are scarcely real exceptions, 
since such persons commonly fall back on the putative 
approbation of some supernatural witness of their deeds. 

Pecuniary Emulation 31 

So soon as the possession of property becomes the 
basis of popular esteem, therefore, it becomes also a 
requisite to that complacency which we call self-respect. 
In any community where goods are held in severalty it is 
necessary, in order to his own peace of mind, that an 
individual should possess as large a portion of goods as 
others with whom he is accustomed to class himself ; 
and it is extremely gratifying to possess something more 
than others. But as fast as a person makes new acqui- 
sitions, and becomes accustomed to the resulting new 
standard of wealth, the new standard forthwith ceases 
to afford appreciably greater satisfaction than the earlier 
standard did. The tendency in any case is constantly 
to make the present pecuniary standard the point of 
departure for a fresh increase of wealth ; and this in 
turn gives rise to a new standard of sufficiency and a 
new pecuniary classification of one's self as compared 
with one's neighbours. So far as concerns the present 
question, the end sought by accumulation is to rank 
high in comparison with the rest of the community in 
point of pecuniary strength. So long as the comparison 
is distinctly unfavourable to himself, the normal, average 
individual will live in chronic dissatisfaction with his 
present lot ; and when he has reached what may be 
called the normal pecuniary standard of the community, 
or of his class in the community, this chronic dissatis- 
faction will give place to a restless straining to place 
a wider and ever-widening pecuniary interval between 
himself and this average standard. The invidious com- 
parison can never become so favourable to the individual 
making it that he would not gladly rate himself still 

32 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

higher relatively to his competitors in the struggle for 
pecuniary reputability. 

In the nature of the case, the desire for wealth can 
scarcely be satiated in any individual instance, and evi- 
dently a satiation of the average or general desire for 
wealth is out of the question. However widely, or 
equally, or "fairly," it may be distributed, no general 
increase of the community's wealth can make any ap- 
proach to satiating this need, the ground of which is 
the desire of every one to excel every one else in the 
accumulation of goods. If, as is sometimes assumed, 
the incentive to accumulation were the want of sub- 
sistence or of physical comfort, then the aggregate 
economic wants of a community might conceivably be 
satisfied at some point in the advance of industrial 
efficiency ; but since the struggle is substantially a race 
for reputability on the basis of an invidious comparison, 
no approach to a definitive attainment is possible. 

What has just been said must not be taken to mean 
that there are no other incentives to acquisition and 
accumulation than this desire to excel in pecuniary 
standing and so gain the esteem and envy of one's 
fellow-men. The desire for added comfort and security 
from want is present as a motive at every stage of 
the process of accumulation in a modern industrial com- 
munity ; although the standard of sufficiency in these 
respects is in turn greatly affected by the habit of 
pecuniary emulation. To a great extent this emulation 
shapes the methods and selects the objects of expendi- 
ture for personal comfort and decent livelihood. 

Besides this, the power conferred by wealth also 

Pecuniary Emulation 33 

affords a motive to accumulation. That propensity for 
purposeful activity and that repugnance to all futility of 
effort which belong to man by virtue of his character as 
an agent do not desert him when he emerges from the 
na'fve communal culture where the dominant note of life 
is the unanalysed and undifferentiated solidarity of the 
individual with the group with which his life is bound 
up. When he enters upon the predatory stage, where 
self-seeking in the narrower sense becomes the dominant 
note, this propensity goes with him still, as the per- 
vasive trait that shapes his scheme of life. The pro- 
pensity for achievement and the repugnance to futility 
remain the underlying economic motive. The pro- 
pensity changes only in the form of its expression and 
in the proximate objects to which it directs the man's 
activity. Under the regime of individual ownership 
the most available means of visibly achieving a purpose 
is that afforded by the acquisition and accumulation 
of goods ; and as the self-regarding antithesis between 
man and man reaches fuller consciousness, the pro- 
pensity for achievement the instinct of workman- 
ship tends more and more to shape itself into a 
straining to excel others in pecuniary achievement. 
Relative success, tested by an invidious pecuniary com- 
parison with other men, becomes the conventional end 
of action. The currently accepted legitimate end of 
effort becomes the achievement of a favourable com- 
parison with other men ; and therefore the repugnance 
to futility to a good extent coalesces with the incentive 
of emulation. It acts to accentuate the struggle for 
pecuniary reputability by visiting with a sharper dis- 

34 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

approval all shortcoming and all evidence of short- 
coming in point of pecuniary success. Purposeful effort 
comes to mean, primarily, effort directed to or resulting 
in a more creditable showing of accumulated wealth. 
Among the motives which lead men to accumulate 
wealth, the primacy, both in scope and intensity, there- 
fore, continues to belong to this motive of pecuniary 

In making use of the term " invidious," it may per- 
haps be unnecessary to remark, there is no intention to 
extol or depreciate, or to commend or deplore any of 
the phenomena which the word is used to characterise. 
The term is used in a technical sense as describing a 
comparison of persons with a view to rating and grading 
them in respect of relative worth or value in an 
aesthetic or moral sense and so awarding and defin- 
ing the relative degrees of complacency with which 
they may legitimately be contemplated by themselves 
and by others. An invidious comparison is a process 
of valuation of persons in respect of worth. 



IF its working were not disturbed by other economic 
forces qr other features of the emulative process, the 
immediate effect of such a pecuniary struggle as has 
just been described in outline would be to make men 
industrious and frugal. This result actually follows, in 
some measure, so far as regards the lower classes, 
whose ordinary means of acquiring goods is productive 
labour. This is more especially true of the labouring 
classes in a sedentary community which is at an 
agricultural stage of industry, in which there is a 
considerable subdivision of property, and whose laws 
and customs secure to these classes a more or less 
definite share of the product of their industry. These 
lower classes can in any case not avoid labour, and the 
imputation of labour is therefore not greatly derogatory 
to them, at least not within their class. Rather, since 
labour is their recognised and accepted mode of life, 
they take some emulative pride in a reputation for 
efficiency in their work, this being often the only line 
of emulation that is open to them. For those for whom 
acquisition and emulation is possible only within the 
field of productive efficiency and thrift, the struggle 
for pecuniary reputability will in some measure work 


36 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

out in an increase of diligence and parsimony. But 
certain secondary features of the emulative process, 
yet to be spoken of, come in to very materially circum- 
scribe and modify emulation in these directions among 
the pecuniarily inferior classes as well as among the 
superior class. 

But it is otherwise with the superior pecuniary class, 
with which we are here immediately concerned. For 
this class also the incentive to diligence and thrift is 
not absent ; but its action is so greatly qualified by the 
secondary demands of pecuniary emulation, that any 
inclination in this direction is practically overborne and 
any incentive to diligence tends to be of no effect. 
The most imperative of these secondary demands of 
emulation, as well as the one of widest scope, is the 
requirement of abstention from productive work. This 
is true in an especial degree for the barbarian stage 
of culture. During the predatory culture labour comes 
to be associated in men's habits of thought with weak- 
ness and subjection to a master. It is therefore a mark 
of inferiority, and therefore comes to be accounted un- 
worthy of man in his best estate. By virtue of this 
tradition labour is felt to be debasing, and this tradition 
has never died out. On the contrary, with the advance 
of social differentiation it has acquired the axiomatic 
force due to ancient and unquestioned prescription. 

In order to gain and to hold the esteem of men it is 
not sufficient merely to possess wealth or power. The 
wealth or power must be put in evidence, for esteem 
is awarded only on evidence. And not only does the 
evidence of wealth serve to impress one's importance 

Conspicuous Leisure 37 

on others and to keep their sense of his importance 
alive and alert, but it is of scarcely less use in building 
up and preserving one's self-complacency. In all but 
the lowest stages of culture the normally constituted 
man is comforted and upheld in his self-respect by 
"decent surroundings" and by exemption from "menial 
offices." Enforced departure from his habitual stand- 
ard of decency, either in the paraphernalia of life or in 
the kind and amount of his everyday activity, is felt 
to be a slight upon his human dignity, even apart from all 
conscious consideration of the approval or disapproval 
of his fellows. 

The archaic theoretical distinction between the base 
and the honourable in the manner of a man's life retains 
very much of its ancient force even to-day. So much 
so that there are few of the better class who are not 
possessed of an instinctive repugnance for the vulgar 
forms of labour. We have a realising sense of ceremo- 
nial uncleanness attaching in an especial degree to the 
occupations which are associated in our habits of 
thought with menial service. It is felt by all persons 
of refined taste that a spiritual contamination is insep- 
arable from certain offices that are conventionally re- 
quired of servants. Vulgar surroundings, mean (that 
is to say, inexpensive) habitations, and vulgarly pro- 
ductive occupations are unhesitatingly condemned and 
avoided. They are incompatible with life on a satis- 
factory spiritual plane with "high thinking." From 
the days of the Greek philosophers to the present, a 
degree of leisure and of exemption from contact with 
such industrial processes as serve the immediate every- 

38 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

day purposes of human life has ever been recognised by 
thoughtful men as a prerequisite to a worthy or beauti- 
ful, or even a blameless, human life. In itself and in its 
consequences the life of leisure is beautiful and enno- 
bling in all civilised men's eyes. 

This direct, subjective value of leisure and of other 
evidences of wealth is no doubt in great part secondary 
and derivative. It is in part a reflex of the utility 
of leisure as a means of gaining the respect of others, 
and in part it is the result of a mental substitution. 
The performance of labour has been accepted as a con- 
ventional evidence of inferior force ; therefore it comes 
itself, by a mental short-cut, to be regarded as intrin- 
sically base. 

During the predatory stage proper, and especially 
during the earlier stages of the quasi-peaceable develop- 
ment of industry that follows the predatory stage, a 
life of leisure is the readiest and most conclusive evi- 
dence of pecuniary strength, and therefore of superior 
force ; provided always that the gentleman of leisure 
can live in manifest ease and comfort. At this stage 
wealth consists chiefly of slaves, and the benefits accru- 
ing from the possession of riches and power take the 
form chiefly of personal service and the immediate 
products of personal service. Conspicuous abstention 
from labour therefore becomes the conventional mark 
of superior pecuniary achievement and the conventional 
index of reputability ; and conversely, since application 
to productive labour is a mark of poverty and subjection, 
it becomes inconsistent with a reputable standing in the 
community. Habits of industry and thrift, therefore, 

Conspicuous Leisure 39 

are not uniformly furthered by a prevailing pecuniary 
emulation. On the contrary, this kind of emulation 
indirectly discountenances participation in productive 
labour. Labour would unavoidably become dishonoura- 
ble, as being an evidence of poverty, even if it were not 
already accounted indecorous under the ancient tradi- 
tion handed down from an earlier cultural stage. The 
ancient tradition of the predatory culture is that pro- 
ductive effort is to be shunned as being unworthy of 
able-bodied men, and this tradition is reinforced rather 
than set aside in the passage from the predatory to the 
quasi-peaceable manner of life. 

Even if the institution of a leisure class had not come 
in with the first emergence of individual ownership, by 
force of the dishonour attaching to productive employ- 
ment, it would in any case have come in as one of the 
early consequences of ownership. And it is to be re- 
marked that while the leisure class existed in theory from 
the beginning of predatory culture, the institution takes 
on a new and fuller meaning with the transition from 
the predatory to the next succeeding pecuniary stage of 
culture. It is from this time forth a " leisure class " 
in fact as well as in theory. From this point dates 
the institution of the leisure class in its consummate 

During the predatory stage proper the distinction 
between the leisure and the ^labouring class is in some 
degree a ceremonial distinction only. The able-bodied 
men jealously stand aloof from whatever is, in their ap- 
prehension, menial drudgery ; but their activity in fact 
contributes appreciably to the sustenance of the group, 

40 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

The subsequent stage of quasi-peaceable industry is 
usually characterised by an established chattel slavery, 
herds of cattle, and a servile class of herdsmen and 
shepherds ; industry has advanced so far that the com- 
munity is no longer dependent for its livelihood on the 
chase or on any other form of activity that can fairly be 
classed as exploit. From this point on, the character- 
istic feature of leisure-class life is a conspicuous exemp- 
tion from all useful employment. 

The normal and characteristic occupations of the 
class in this mature phase of its life history are in 
form very much the same as in its earlier days. These 
occupations are government, war, sports, and devout 
observances. Persons unduly given to difficult theo- 
retical niceties may hold that these occupations are 
still incidentally and indirectly " productive " ; but it 
is to be noted as decisive of the question in hand 
that the ordinary and ostensible motive of the leisure 
class in engaging in these occupations is assuredly not 
an increase of wealth by productive effort. At this as 
at any other cultural stage, government and war are, at 
least in part, carried on for the pecuniary gain of those 
who engage in them ; but it is gain obtained by the 
honourable method of seizure and conversion. These 
occupations are of the nature of predatory, not of pro- 
ductive, employment. Something similar may be said 
of the chase, but with a difference. As the community 
passes out of the hunting stage proper, hunting gradu- 
ally becomes differentiated into two distinct employ- 
ments. On the one hand it is a trade, carried on chiefly 
for gain ; and from this the element of exploit is virtu- 

Conspicuous Leisure 41 

ally absent, or it is at any rate not present in a suffi- 
cient degree to clear the pursuit of the imputation of 
gainful industry. On the other hand, the chase is also 
a sport an exercise of the predatory impulse simply. 
As such it does not afford any appreciable pecuniary 
incentive, but it contains a more or less obvious element 
of exploit. It is this latter development of the chase 
purged of all imputation of handicraft that alone is 
meritorious and fairly belongs in the scheme of life of 
the developed leisure class. 

Abstention from labour is not only a honorific or 
meritorious act, but it presently comes to be a requisite 
of decency. The insistence on property as the basis of 
reputability is very na'fve and very imperious during the 
early stages of the accumulation of wealth. Abstention 
from labour is the conventional evidence of wealth and 
is therefore the conventional mark of social standing ; 
and this insistence on the meritoriousness of wealth 
leads to a more strenuous insistence on leisure. Nota 
notes est nota rei ipsius. According to well-established 
laws of human nature, prescription presently seizes upon 
this conventional evidence of wealth and fixes it in men's 
habits of thought as something that is in itself sub- 
stantially meritorious and ennobling; while productive 
labour at the same time and by a like process becomes 
in a double sense intrinsically unworthy. Prescription 
ends by making labour not only disreputable in the eyes 
of the community, but morally impossible to the noble, 
freeborn man, and incompatible with a worthy life. 

This tabu on labour has a further consequence in the 
industrial differentiation of classes. As the population 

42 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

increases in density and the predatory group grows into 
a settled industrial community, the constituted authori- 
ties and the customs governing ownership gain in scope 
and consistency. It then presently becomes impracti- 
cable to accumulate wealth by simple seizure, and, in 
logical consistency, acquisition by industry is equally 
impossible for high-minded and impecunious men. 
The alternative open to them is beggary or privation. 
Wherever the canon of conspicuous leisure has a chance 
undisturbed to work out its tendency, there will there- 
fore emerge a secondary, and in a sense spurious, leisure 
class abjectly poor and living a precarious life of want 
and discomfort, but morally unable to stoop to gainful 
pursuits. The decayed gentleman and the lady who 
has seen better days are by no means unfamiliar phe- 
nomena even now. This pervading sense of the indig- 
nity of the slightest manual labour is familiar to all 
civilised peoples, as well as to peoples of a less advanced 
pecuniary culture. In persons of delicate sensibility, 
who have long been habituated to gentle manners, the 
sense of the shamefulness of manual labour may become 
so strong that, at a critical juncture, it will even set 
aside the instinct of self-preservation. So, for in- 
stance, we are told of certain Polynesian chiefs, who, 
under the stress of good form, preferred to starve 
rather than carry their food to their mouths with 
their own hands. It is true, this conduct may have 
been due, at least in part, to an excessive sanctity or 
tabu attaching to the chief's person. The tabu would 
have been communicated by the contact of his hands, 
and so would have made anything touched by him unfit 

Conspicuous Leisure 43 

for human food. But the tabu is itself a derivative of 
the unworthiness or moral incompatibility of labour ; so 
that even when construed in this sense the conduct of 
the Polynesian chiefs is truer to the canon of honorific 
leisure than would at first appear. A better illustration, 
or at least a more unmistakable one, is afforded by a 
certain king of France, who is said to have lost his life 
through an excess of moral stamina in the observance 
of good form. In the absence of the functionary whose 
office it was to shift his master's seat, the king sat un- 
complaining before the fire and suffered his royal 
person to be toasted beyond recovery. But in so doing 
he saved his Most Christian Majesty from menial con- 

Summum crede nefas animam praeferre pudori, 
Et propter vitam vivendi perdere causas. 

It has already been remarked that the term " leisure," 
as here used, does not connote indolence or quiescence. 
What it connotes is non-productive consumption of time. 
Time is consumed non-productively (i) from a sense of 
the unworthiness of productive work, and (2) as an 
evidence of pecuniary ability to afford a life of idleness. 
But the whole of the life of the gentleman of leisure is 
not spent before the eyes of the spectators who are to 
be impressed with that spectacle of honorific leisure 
which in the ideal scheme makes up his life. For some 
part of the time his life is perforce withdrawn from the 
public eye, and of this portion which is spent in private 
the gentleman of leisure should, for the sake of his good 
name, be able to give a convincing account. He should 

44 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

find some means of putting in evidence the leisure that 
is not spent in the sight of the spectators. This can 
be done only indirectly, through the exhibition of some 
tangible, lasting results of the leisure so spent in a 
manner analogous to the familiar exhibition of tangi- 
ble, lasting products of the labour performed for the 
gentleman of leisure by handicraftsmen and servants 
in his employ. 

The lasting evidence of productive labour is its mate- 
rial product commonly some article of consumption. 
In the case of exploit it is similarly possible and usual 
to procure some tangible result that may serve for 
exhibition in the way of trophy or booty. At a later 
phase of the development it is customary to assume 
some badge or insignia of honour that will serve as a 
conventionally accepted mark of exploit, and which at 
the same time indicates the quantity or degree of ex- 
ploit of which it is the symbol. As the population 
increases in density, and as human relations grow more 
complex and numerous, all the details of life undergo a 
process of elaboration and selection ; and in this process 
of elaboration the use of trophies develops into a sys- 
tem of rank, titles, degrees and insignia, typical ex- 
amples of which are heraldic devices, medals, and 
honorary decorations. 

As seen from the economic point of view, leisure, 
considered as an employment, is closely allied in kind 
with the life of exploit ; and the achievements which 
characterise a life of leisure, and which remain as its 
decorous criteria, have much -in common with the 
trophies of exploit. But leisure in the narrower sense, 

Conspicuous Leisure 45 

as distinct from exploit and from any ostensibly produc- 
tive employment of effort on objects which are of no 
intrinsic use, does not commonly leave a material prod- 
uct. The criteria of a past performance of leisure 
therefore commonly take the form of " immaterial " 
goods. Such immaterial evidences of past leisure 
are quasi-scholarly or quasi-artistic accomplishments 
and a knowledge of processes and incidents which do 
not conduce directly to the furtherance of human life. 
So, for instance, in our time there is the knowledge of 
the dead languages and the occult sciences ; of correct 
spelling ; of syntax and prosody ; of the various forms 
of domestic music and other household art ; of the 
latest proprieties of dress, furniture, and equipage; of 
games, sports, and fancy-bred animals, such as dogs and 
race-horses. In all these branches of knowledge the 
initial motive from which their acquisition proceeded 
at the outset, and through which they first came into 
vogue, may have been something quite different from 
the wish to show that one's time had not been spent in 
industrial employment ; but unless these accomplish- 
ments had approved themselves as serviceable evidence 
of an unproductive expenditure of time, they would not 
have survived and held their place as conventional 
accomplishments of the leisure class. 

These accomplishments may, in some sense, be classed 
as branches of learning. Beside and beyond these there 
is a further range of social facts which shade off from 
the region of learning into that of physical habit and 
dexterity. Such are what is known as manners and 
breeding, polite usage, decorum, and formal and cere- 

46 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

monial observances generally. This class of facts are 
even more immediately and obtrusively presented to 
the observation, and they are therefore more widely 
and more imperatively insisted on as required evidences 
of a reputable degree of leisure. It is worth while to 
remark that all that class of ceremonial observances 
which are classed under the general head of manners 
hold a more important place in the esteem of men dur- 
ing the stage of culture at which conspicuous leisure 
has the greatest vogue as a mark of reputability, than 
at later stages of the cultural development. The bar- 
barian of the quasi-peaceable stage of industry is notori- 
ously a more high-bred gentleman, in all that concerns 
decorum, than any but the very exquisite among the men 
of a later age. Indeed, it is well known, or at least it 
is currently believed, that manners have progressively 
deteriorated as society has receded from the patriarchal 
stage. Many a gentleman of the old school has been 
provoked to remark regretfully upon the under-bred 
manners and bearing of even the better classes in the 
modern industrial communities ; and the decay of the 
ceremonial code or as it is otherwise called, the vul- 
garisation of life among the industrial classes proper 
has become one of the chief enormities of latter-day 
civilisation in the eyes of all persons of delicate sensi- 
bilities. The decay which the code has suffered at the 
hands of a busy people testifies all deprecation apart 
to the fact that decorum is a product and an ex- 
ponent of leisure-class life and thrives in full measure 
only under a regime of status. 

The origin, or better the derivation, of manners is, 

Conspicuous Leisure 47 

no doubt, to be sought elsewhere than in a conscious 
effort on the part of the well-mannered to show that 
much time has been spent in acquiring them. The 
proximate end of innovation and elaboration has been 
the higher effectiveness of the new departure in point 
of beauty or of expressiveness. In great part the cere- 
monial code of decorous usages owes its beginning and 
its growth to the desire to conciliate or to show good- 
will, as anthropologists and sociologists are in the habit 
of assuming, and this initial motive is rarely if ever 
absent from the conduct of well-mannered persons at 
any stage of the later development. Manners, we are 
told, are in part an elaboration of gesture, and in part 
they are symbolical and conventionalised survivals repre- 
senting former acts of dominance or of personal service 
or of personal contact. In large part they are an ex- 
pression of the relation of status, a symbolic panto- 
mime of mastery on the one hand and of subservience 
on the other. Wherever at the present time the pred- 
atory habit of mind, and the consequent attitude of 
mastery and of subservience, gives its character to the 
accredited scheme of life, there the importance of all 
punctilios of conduct is extreme, and the assiduity with 
which the ceremonial observance of rank and titles is 
attended to approaches closely to the ideal set by the 
barbarian of the quasi-peaceable nomadic culture. Some 
of the Continental countries afford good illustrations of 
this spiritual survival. In these communities the 
archaic ideal is similarly approached as regards the 
esteem accorded to manners as a fact of intrinsic 

48 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

Decorum set out with being symbol and pantomime 
and with having utility only as an exponent of the 
facts and qualities symbolised ; but it presently suffered 
the transmutation which commonly passes over symboli- 
cal facts in human intercourse. Manners presently came, 
in popular apprehension, to be possessed of a substantial 
utility in themselves ; they acquired a sacramental char- 
acter, in great measure independent of the facts which 
they originally prefigured. Deviations from the code 
of decorum have become intrinsically odious to all men, 
and good breeding is, in everyday apprehension, not 
simply an adventitious mark of human excellence, but 
an integral feature of the worthy human soul. There 
are few things that so touch us with instinctive revul- 
sion as a breach of decorum ; and so far have we pro- 
gressed in the direction of imputing intrinsic utility to 
the ceremonial observances of etiquette that few of us, 
if any, can dissociate an offence against etiquette from 
a sense of the substantial unworthiness of the offender. 
A breach of faith may be condoned, but a breach of 
decorum can not. " Manners maketh man." 

None the less, while manners have this intrinsic 
utility, in the apprehension of the performer and the 
beholder alike, this sense of the intrinsic Tightness of 
decorum is only the proximate ground of the vogue of 
manners and breeding. Their ulterior, economic ground 
is to be sought in the honorific character of that leisure 
or non-productive employment of time and effort with- 
out which good manners are not acquired. The know- 
ledge and habit of good form come only by long-con- 
tinued use. Refined tastes, manners, and habits of life 

Conspicuous Leisure 49 

are a useful evidence of gentility, because good breeding 
requires time, application, and expense, and can there- 
fore not be compassed by those whose time and energy 
are taken up with work. A knowledge of good form is 
prima facie evidence that that portion of the well-bred 
person's life which is not spent under the observation 
of the spectator has been worthily spent in acquiring 
accomplishments that are of no lucrative effect. In the 
last analysis the value of manners lies in the fact that 
they are the voucher of a life of leisure. Therefore, 
conversely, since leisure is the conventional means of 
pecuniary repute, the acquisition of some proficiency in 
decorum is incumbent on all who aspire to a modicum 
of pecuniary decency. 

So much of the honourable life of leisure as is not 
spent in the sight of spectators can serve the purposes 
of reputability only in so far as it leaves a tangible, visi- 
ble result that can be put in evidence and can be meas- 
ured and compared with products of the same class 
exhibited by competing aspirants for repute. Some 
such effect, in the way of leisurely manners and carriage, 
etc., follows from simple persistent abstention from 
work, even where the subject does not take thought of 
the matter and studiously acquire an air of leisurely 
opulence and mastery. Especially does it seem to be 
true that a life of leisure in this way persisted in through 
several generations will leave a persistent, ascertainable 
effect in the conformation of the person, and still more 
in his habitual bearing and demeanour. But all the sug- 
gestions of a cumulative life of leisure, and all the profi- 
ciency in decorum that comes by the way of passive 

5O The Theory of the Leisure Class 

habituation, may be further improved upon by taking 
thought and assiduously acquiring the marks of honour- 
able leisure, and then carrying the exhibition of these 
adventitious marks of exemption from employment out 
in a strenuous and systematic discipline. Plainly, this 
is a point at which a diligent application of effort and 
expenditure may materially further the attainment of a 
decent proficiency in the leisure-class proprieties. Con- 
versely, the greater the degree of proficiency and the 
more patent the evidence of a high degree of habitua- 
tion to observances which serve no lucrative or other 
directly useful purpose, the greater the consumption of 
time and substance impliedly involved in their acquisi- 
tion, and the greater the resultant good repute. Hence, 
under the competitive struggle for proficiency in good 
manners, it comes about that much pains is taken with 
the cultivation of habits of decorum ; and hence the 
details of decorum develop into a comprehensive dis- 
cipline, conformity to which is required of all who would 
be held blameless in point of repute. And hence, on the 
other hand, this conspicuous leisure of which decorum 
is a ramification grows gradually into a laborious drill 
in deportment and an education in taste and discrimina- 
tion as to what articles of consumption are decorous 
and what are the decorous methods of consuming them. 
In this connection it is worthy of notice that the pos- 
sibility of producing pathological and other idiosyn- 
crasies of person and manner by shrewd mimicry and 
a systematic drill have been turned to account in the 
deliberate production of a cultured class often with 
a very happy effect. In this way, by the process vul- 

Conspicuous Leisure 51 

garly known as snobbery, a syncopated evolution of 
gentle birth and breeding is achieved in the case of a 
goodly number of families and lines of descent. This 
syncopated gentle birth gives results which, in point of 
serviceability as a leisure-class factor in the population, 
are in no wise substantially inferior to others who may 
have had a longer but less arduous training in the 
pecuniary proprieties. 

There are, moreover, measureable degrees of con- 
formity to the latest accredited code of the punctilios as 
regards decorous means and methods of consumption. 
Differences between one person and another in the 
degree of conformity to the ideal in these respects can 
be compared, and persons may be graded and scheduled 
with some accuracy and effect according to a progres- 
sive scale of manners and breeding. The award of 
reputability in this regard is commonly made in good 
faith, on the ground of conformity to accepted canons 
of taste in the matters concerned, and without conscious 
regard to the pecuniary standing or the degree of leisure 
practised by any given candidate for reputability; but 
the canons of taste according to which the award is 
made are constantly under the surveillance of the law 
of conspicuous leisure, and are indeed constantly under- 
going change and revision to bring them into closer 
conformity with its requirements. So that while the 
proximate ground of discrimination may be of another 
kind, still the pervading principle and abiding test of 
good breeding is the requirement of a substantial and 
patent waste of time. There may be some considera- 
ble range of variation in detail within the scope of this 

52 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

principle, but they are variations of form and expres. 
sion, not of substance. 

Much of the courtesy of everyday intercourse is of 
course a direct expression of consideration and kindly 
good-will, and this element of conduct has for the most 
part no need of being traced back to any underlying 
ground of reputability to explain either its presence or 
the approval with which it is regarded; but the same 
is not true of the code of proprieties. These latter are 
expressions of status. It is of course sufficiently plain, 
to any one who cares to see, that our bearing towards 
menials and other pecuniarily dependent inferiors is 
the bearing of the superior member in a relation of 
status, though its manifestation is often greatly modi- 
fied and softened from the original expression of crude 
dominance. Similarly, our bearing towards superiors, 
and in great measure towards equals, expresses a more 
or less conventionalised attitude of subservience. Wit- 
ness the masterful presence of the high-minded gentle- 
man or lady, which testifies to so much of dominance 
and independence of economic circumstances, and which 
at the same time appeals with such convincing force to 
our sense of what is right and gracious. It is among 
this highest leisure class, who have no superiors and 
few peers, that decorum finds its fullest and maturest 
expression ; and it is this highest class also that gives 
decorum that definitive formulation which serves as a 
canon of conduct for the classes beneath. And here 
also the code is most obviously a code of status and 
shows most plainly its incompatibility with all vulgarly 
productive work. A divine assurance and an imperious 

Conspicuous Leisure 53 

complaisance, as of one habituated to require subser- 
vience and to take no thought for the morrow, is the 
birthright and the criterion of the gentleman at his 
best; and it is in popular apprehension even more than 
that, for this demeanour is accepted as an intrinsic at- 
tribute of superior worth, before which the base-born 
commoner delights to stoop and yield. 

As has been indicated in an earlier chapter, there is 
reason to believe that the institution of ownership has 
begun with the ownership of persons, primarily women. 
The incentives to acquiring such property have ap- 
parently been: (i) a propensity for dominance and coer- 
cion ; (2) the utility of these persons as evidence of the 
prowess of their owner ; (3) the utility of their services. 

Personal service holds a peculiar place in the eco- 
nomic development. During the stage of quasi-peaceable 
industry, and especially during the earlier development 
of industry within the limits of this general stage, the 
utility of their services seems commonly to be the domi- 
nant motive to the acquisition of property in persons. 
Servants are valued for their services. But the domi- 
nance of this motive is not due to a decline in the abso- 
lute importance of the other two utilities possessed by 
servants. It is rather that the altered circumstances of 
life accentuate the utility of servants for this last-named 
purpose. Women and other slaves are highly valued, 
both as an evidence of wealth and as a means of accu- 
mulating wealth. Together with cattle, if the tribe is 
a pastoral one, they are the usual form of investment 
for a profit. To such an extent may female slavery give 

54 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

its character to the economic life under the quasi- 
peaceable culture that the woman even comes to serve 
as a unit of value among peoples occupying this cultural 
stage as for instance in Homeric times. Where this 
is the case there need be little question but that the 
basis of the industrial system is chattel slavery and that 
the women are commonly slaves. The great, pervading 
human relation in such a system is that of master and 
servant. The accepted evidence of wealth is the pos- 
session of many women, and presently also of other 
slaves engaged in attendance on their master's person 
and in producing goods for him. 

A division of labour presently sets in, whereby per- 
sonal service and attendance on the master becomes the 
special office of a portion of the servants, while those 
who are wholly employed in industrial occupations 
proper are removed more and more from all imme- 
diate relation to the person of their owner. At the 
same time those servants whose office is personal 
service, including domestic duties, come gradually to 
be exempted from productive industry carried on for 

This process of progressive exemption from the com- 
mon run of industrial employment will commonly begin 
with the exemption of the wife, or the chief wife. After 
the community has advanced to settled habits of life, 
wife-capture from hostile tribes becomes impracticable 
as a customary source of supply. Where this cultural 
advance has been achieved, the chief wife is ordinarily 
of gentle blood, and the fact of her being so will hasten 
her exemption from vulgar employment. The manner 

Conspicuous Leisure 55 

in which the concept of gentle blood originates, as well 
as the place which it occupies in the development of mar- 
riage, cannot be discussed in this place. For the pur- 
pose in hand it will be sufficient to say that gentle blood 
is blood which has been ennobled by protracted con- 
tact with accumulated wealth or unbroken prerogative. 
The woman with these antecedents is preferred in mar- 
riage, both for the sake of a resulting alliance with her 
powerful relatives and because a superior worth is felt 
to inhere in blood which has been associated with many 
goods and great power. She will still be her husband's 
chattel, as she was her father's chattel before her pur- 
chase, but she is at the same time of her father's gentle 
blood; and hence there is a moral incongruity in her 
occupying herself with the debasing employments of her 
fellow-servants. However completely she may be sub- 
ject to her master, and however inferior to the male 
members of the social stratum in which her birth has 
placed her, the principle that gentility is transmissible 
will act to place her above the common slave ; and so 
soon as this principle has acquired a prescriptive author- 
ity it will act to invest her in some measure with that 
prerogative of leisure which is the chief mark of gentil- 
ity. Furthered by this principle of transmissible gen- 
tility the wife's exemption gains in scope, if the wealth 
of her owner permits it, until it includes exemption from 
debasing menial service as well as from handicraft. As 
the industrial development goes on and property be- 
comes massed in relatively fewer hands, the conventional 
standard of wealth of the upper class rises. The same 
tendency to exemption from handicraft, and in the 

56 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

course of time from menial domestic employments, wili 
then assert itself as regards the other wives, if such 
there are, and also as regards other servants in immedi- 
ate attendance upon the person of their master. The 
exemption comes more tardily the remoter the relation 
in which the servant stands to the person of the master. 
If the pecuniary situation of the master permits it, 
the development of a special class of personal or body 
servants is also furthered by the very grave importance 
which comes to attach to this personal service. The 
master's person, being the embodiment of worth and 
honour, is of the most serious consequence. Both for 
his reputable standing in the community and for his 
self-respect, it is a matter of moment that he should 
have at his call efficient specialised servants, whose 
attendance upon his person is not diverted from this 
their chief office by any by-occupation. These special- 
ised servants are useful more for show than for service 
actually performed. In so far as they are not kept 
for exhibition simply, they afford gratification to their 
master chiefly in allowing scope to his propensity for 
dominance. It is true, the care of the continually in- 
creasing household apparatus may require added labour ; 
but since the apparatus is commonly increased in order 
to serve as a means of good repute rather than as a 
means of comfort, this qualification is not of great 
weight. All these lines of utility are better served by 
a larger number of more highly specialised servants. 
There results, therefore, a constantly increasing differ- 
entiation and multiplication of domestic and body ser- 
vants, along with a concomitant progressive exemption 

Conspicuous Leisure 57 

of such servants from productive labour. By virtue of 
their serving as evidence of ability to pay, the office of 
such domestics regularly tends to include continually 
fewer duties, and their service tends in the end to be- 
come nominal only. This is especially true of those ser- 
vants who are in most immediate and obvious attendance 
upon their master. So that the utility of these comes 
to consist, in great part, in their conspicuous exemption 
from productive labour and in the evidence which this 
exemption affords of their master's wealth and power. 

After some considerable advance has been made in 
the practice of employing a special corps of servants for 
the performance of a conspicuous leisure in this man- 
ner, men begin to be preferred above women for ser- 
vices that bring them obtrusively into view. Men, 
especially lusty, personable fellows, such as footmen 
and other menials should be, are obviously more power- 
ful and more expensive than women. They are better 
fitted for this work, as showing a larger waste of time 
and of human energy. Hence it comes about that in 
the economy of the leisure class the busy housewife of 
the early patriarchal days, with her retinue of hard- 
working handmaidens, presently gives place to the lady 
and the lackey. 

In all grades and walks of life, and at any stage of the 
economic development, the leisure of the lady and of the 
lackey differs from the leisure of the gentleman in his 
own right in that it is an occupation of an ostensibly 
laborious kind. It takes the form, in large measure, of 
a painstaking attention to the service of the master, or 
to the maintenance and elaboration of the household 

58 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

paraphernalia; so that it is leisure only in the sense 
that little or no productive work is performed by this 
class, not in the sense that all appearance of labour is 
avoided by them. The duties performed by the lady, or 
by the household or domestic servants, are frequently 
arduous enough, and they are also frequently directed 
to ends which are considered extremely necessary to 
the comfort of the entire household. So far as these 
services conduce to the physical efficiency or comfort of 
the master or the rest of the household, they are to be 
accounted productive work. Only the residue of em- 
ployment left after deduction of this effective work is 
to be classed as a performance of leisure. 

But much of the services classed as household cares 
in modern everyday life, and many of the "utilities" re- 
quired for a comfortable existence by civilised man, are 
of a ceremonial character. They are, therefore, properly 
to be classed as a performance of leisure in the sense in 
which the term is here used. They may be none the 
less imperatively necessary from the point of view of 
decent existence ; they may be none the less requisite 
for personal comfort even, although they may be chiefly 
or wholly of a ceremonial character. But in so far as 
they partake of this character they are imperative and 
requisite because we have been taught to require them 
under pain of ceremonial uncleanness or unworthiness. 
We feel discomfort in their absence, but not because 
their absence results directly in physical discomfort ; 
nor would a taste not trained to discriminate between 
the conventionally good and the conventionally bad 
take offence at their omission. In so far as this is true 

Conspicuous Leisure 59 

the labour spent in these services is to be classed as lei- 
sure ; and when performed by others than the economi- 
cally free and self-directing head of the establishment, 
they are to be classed as vicarious leisure. 

The vicarious leisure performed by housewives and 
menials, under the head of household cares, may fre- 
quently develop into drudgery, especially where the 
competition for reputability is close and strenuous. 
This is frequently the case in modern life. Where this 
happens, the domestic service which comprises the 
duties of this servant class might aptly be designated 
as wasted effort, rather than as vicarious leisure. But 
the latter term has the advantage of indicating the line 
of derivation of these domestic offices, as well as of 
neatly suggesting the substantial economic ground of 
their utility ; for these occupations are chiefly useful 
as a method of imputing pecuniary reputability to the 
master or to the household on the ground that a given 
amount of time and effort is conspicuously wasted in 
that behalf. 

In this way, then, there arises a subsidiary or deriva- 
tive leisure class, whose office is the performance of a 
vicarious leisure for the behoof of the reputability of 
the primary or legitimate leisure class. This vicari- 
ous leisure class is distinguished from the leisure class 
proper by a characteristic feature of its habitual mode 
of life. The leisure of the master class is, at least 
ostensibly, an indulgence of a proclivity for the avoid- 
ance of labour and is presumed to enhance the master's 
own well-being and fulness of life ; but the leisure of 
the servant class exempt from productive labour is in 

60 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

some sort a performance exacted from them, and is 
not normally or primarily directed to their own comfort. 
The leisure of the servant is not his own leisure. So 
far as he is a servant in the full sense, and not at the 
same time a member of a lower order of the leisure 
class proper, his leisure normally passes under the guise 
of specialised service directed to the furtherance of his 
master's fulness of life. Evidence of this relation of 
subservience is obviously present in the servant's car- 
riage and manner of life. The like is often true of the 
wife throughout the protracted economic stage during 
which she is still primarily a servant that is to say, so 
long as the household with a male head remains in force. 
In order to satisfy the requirements of the leisure-class 
scheme of life, the servant should show not only an 
attitude of subservience, but also the effects of special 
training and practice in subservience. The servant or 
wife should not only perform certain offices and show a 
servile disposition, but it is quite as imperative that 
they should show an acquired facility in the tactics of 
subservience a trained conformity to the canons of 
effectual and conspicuous subservience. Even to-day 
it is this aptitude and acquired skill in the formal mani- 
festation of the servile relation that constitutes the 
chief element of utility in our highly paid servants, as 
well as one of the chief ornaments of the well-bred 

The first requisite of a good servant is that he should 
conspicuously know his place. It is not enough that he 
knows how to effect certain desired mechanical results ; 
he must, above all, know how to effect these results in 

Conspicuous Leisure 61 

due form. Domestic service might be said to be a 
spiritual rather than a mechanical function. Gradually 
there grows up an elaborate system of good form, spe- 
cifically regulating the manner in which this vicarious 
leisure of the servant class is to be performed. Any 
departure frojn these canons of form is to be deprecated, 
not so much because it evinces a shortcoming in me- 
chanical efficiency, or even that it shows an absence 
of the servile attitude and temperament, but because, in 
the last analysis, it shows the absence of special train- 
ing. Special training in personal service costs time and 
effort, and where it is obviously present in a high de- 
gree, it argues that the servant who possesses it, neither 
is nor has been habitually engaged in any productive 
occupation. It is prima facie evidence of a vicarious 
leisure extending far back in the past. So that trained 
service has utility, not only as gratifying the master's 
instinctive liking for good and skilful workmanship and 
his propensity for conspicuous dominance over those 
whose lives are subservient to his own, but it has utility 
also as putting in evidence a much larger consumption 
of human service than would be shown by the mere 
present conspicuous leisure performed by an untrained 
person. It is a serious grievance if a gentleman's 
butler or footman performs his duties about his master's 
table or carriage in such unformed style as to suggest 
that his habitual occupation may be ploughing or sheep- 
herding. Such bungling work would imply inability on 
the master's part to procure the service of specially 
trained servants ; that is to say, it would imply inability 
to pay for the consumption of time, effort, and instruc- 

62 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

tion required to fit a trained servant for special service 
under an exacting code of forms. If the performance 
of the servant argues lack of means on the part of his 
master, it defeats its chief substantial end; for the 
chief use of servants is the evidence they afford of the 
master's ability to pay. 9 

What has just been said might be taken to imply 
that the offence of an under-trained servant lies in a 
direct suggestion of inexpensiveness or of usefulness. 
Such, of course, is not the case. The connection is 
much less immediate. What happens here is what 
happens generally. Whatever approves itself to us 
on any ground at the outset, presently comes to appeal 
to us as a gratifying thing in itself ; it comes to rest in 
our habits of thought as substantially right. But in 
order that any specific canon of deportment shall main- 
tain itself in favour, it must continue to have the support 
of, or at least not be incompatible with, the habit or 
aptitude which constitutes the norm of its development. 
The need of vicarious leisure, or conspicuous consump- 
tion of service, is a dominant incentive to the keeping 
of servants. So long as this remains true it may be set 
down without much discussion that any such departure 
from accepted usage as would suggest an abridged 
apprenticeship in service would presently be found 
insufferable. The requirement of an expensive vica- 
rious leisure acts indirectly, selectively, by guiding the 
formation of our taste, of our sense of what is right 
in these matters, and so weeds out unconformable 
departures by withholding approval of them. 

As the standard of wealth recognized by common 

Conspicuous Leisure 63 

consent advances, the possession and exploitation of 
servants as a means of showing superfluity undergoes 
a refinement. The possession and maintenance of 
slaves employed in the production of goods argues 
wealth and prowess, but the maintenance of servants 
who produce nothing argues still higher wealth and 
position. Under this principle there arises a class of 
servants, the more numerous the better, whose sole 
office is fatuously to wait upon the person of their 
owner, and so to put in evidence his ability unproduc- 
tively to consume a large amount of service. There 
supervenes a division of labour among the servants or 
dependents whose life is spent in maintaining the honour 
of the gentleman of leisure. So that, while one group 
produces goods for him, another group, usually headed 
by the wife, or chief wife, consumes for him in conspicu- 
ous leisure ; thereby putting in evidence his ability to 
sustain large pecuniary damage without impairing his 
superior opulence. 

This somewhat idealized and diagrammatic outline of 
the development and nature of domestic service comes 
nearest being true for that cultural stage which has here 
been named the " quasi-peaceable " stage of industry. 
At this stage personal service first rises to the position 
of an economic institution, and it is at this stage that it 
occupies the largest place in the community's scheme 
of life. In the cultural sequence, the quasi-peaceable 
stage follows the predatory stage proper, the two being 
successive phases of barbarian life. Its characteristic 
feature is a formal observance of peace and order, at the 
same time that life at this stage still has too much of 

64 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

coercion and class antagonism to be called peaceable in 
the full sense of the word. For many purposes, and 
from another point of view than the economic one, it 
might as well be named the stage of status. The 
method of human relation during this stage, and the 
spiritual attitude of men at this level of culture, is well 
summed up under that term. But as a descriptive term 
to characterise the prevailing methods of industry, as 
well as to indicate the trend of industrial development 
at this point in economic evolution, the term "quasi- 
peaceable" seems preferable. So far as concerns the 
communities of the Western culture, this phase of eco- 
nomic development probably lies in the past ; except for 
a numerically small though very conspicuous fraction of 
the community in whom the habits of thought peculiar 
to the barbarian culture have suffered but a relatively 
slight disintegration. 

Personal service is still an element of great economic 
importance, especially as regards the distribution and 
consumption of goods ; but its relative importance even 
in this direction is no doubt less than it once was. The 
best development of this vicarious leisure lies in the 
past rather than in the present ; and its best expression 
in the present is to be found in the scheme of life of the 
upper leisure class. To this class the modern culture 
owes much in the way of the conservation of traditions, 
usages, and habits of thought which belong on a more 
archaic cultural plane, so far as regards their widest 
acceptance and their most effective development. 

In the modern industrial communities the mechanical 
contrivances available for the comfort and convenience 

Conspicuous Leisure 65 

of everyday life are highly developed. So much so that 
body servants, or, indeed, domestic servants of any kind, 
would now scarcely be employed by anybody except on 
the ground of a canon of reputability carried over by 
tradition from earlier usage. The only exception would 
be servants employed to attend on the persons of the 
infirm and the feeble-minded. But such servants prop- 
erly come under the head of trained nurses rather than 
under that of domestic servants, and they are, therefore, 
an apparent rather than a real exception to the rule. 

The proximate reason for keeping domestic servants, 
for instance, in the moderately well-to-do household of 
to-day, is (ostensibly) that the members of the house- 
hold are unable without discomfort to compass the work 
required by such a modern establishment. And the 
reason for their being unable to accomplish it is (i) that 
they have too many "social duties," and (2) that the 
work to be done is too severe and that there is too much 
of it. These two reasons may be restated as follows : 
(i) Under a mandatory code of decency, the time and 
effort of the members of such a household are required 
to be ostensibly all spent in a performance of conspicu- 
ous leisure, in the way of calls, drives, clubs, sewing- 
circles, sports, charity organisations, and other like social 
functions. Those persons whose time and energy are 
employed in these matters privately avow that all these 
observances, as well as the incidental attention to dress 
and other conspicuous consumption, are very irksome 
but altogether unavoidable. (2) Under the requirement 
of conspicuous consumption of goods, the apparatus of 
living has grown so elaborate and cumbrous, in the way 


66 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

of dwellings, furniture, bric-a-brac, wardrobe and meals, 
that the consumers of these things cannot make way 
with them in the required manner without help. Per- 
sonal contact with the hired persons whose aid is called 
in to fulfil the routine of decency is commonly distaste- 
ful to the occupants of the house, but their presence is 
endured and paid for, in order to delegate to them a 
share in this onerous consumption of household goods. 
The presence of domestic servants, and of the special 
class of body servants in an eminent degree, is a conces- 
sion of physical comfort to the moral need of pecuniary 

The largest manifestation of vicarious leisure in 
modern life is made up of what are called domestic 
duties. These duties are fast becoming a species of 
services performed, not so much for the individual be- 
hoof of the head of the household as for the reputability 
of the household taken as a corporate unit a group of 
which the housewife is a member on a footing of osten- 
sible equality. As fast as the household for which they 
are performed departs from its archaic basis of owner- 
ship-marriage, these household duties of course tend to 
fall out of the category of vicarious leisure in the origi- 
nal sense ; except so far as they are performed by hired 
servants. That is to say, since vicarious leisure is pos- 
sible only on a basis of status or of hired service, the 
disappearance of the relation of status from human in- 
tercourse at any point carries with it the disappearance 
of vicarious leisure so far as regards that much of life. 
But it is to be added, in qualification of this qualifica- 
tion, that so long as the household subsists, even with 

Conspicuous Leisure 67 

a divided head, this class of non-productive labour per- 
formed for the sake of household reputability must still 
be classed as vicarious leisure, although in a slightly 
altered sense. It is now leisure performed for the quasi- 
personal corporate household, instead of, as formerly, 
for the proprietary head of the household. 


IN what has been said of the evolution of the vicari- 
ous leisure class and its differentiation from the general 
body of the working classes, reference has been made 
to a further division of labour, that between different 
servant classes. One portion of the servant class, 
chiefly those persons whose occupation is vicarious lei- 
sure, come to undertake a new, subsidiary range of 
duties the vicarious consumption of goods. The most 
obvious form in which this consumption occurs is seen 
in the wearing of liveries and the occupation of spacious 
servants' quarters. Another, scarcely less obtrusive or 
less effective form of vicarious consumption, and a much 
more widely prevalent one, is the consumption of food, 
clothing, dwelling, and furniture by the lady and the rest 
of the domestic establishment. 

But already at a point in economic evolution far ante- 
dating the emergence of the lady, specialised consump- 
tion of goods as an evidence of pecuniary strength had 
begun to work out in a more or less elaborate system. 
The beginning of a differentiation in consumption even 
antedates the appearance of anything that can fairly be 
called pecuniary strength. It is traceable back to the 
initial phase of predatory culture, and there is even a 


Conspicuous Consumption 69 

suggestion that an incipient differentiation in this re- 
spect lies back of the beginnings of the predatory life. 
This most primitive differentiation in the consumption 
of goods is like the later differentiation with which we 
are all so intimately familiar, in that it is largely of a 
ceremonial character, but unlike the latter it does not 
rest on a difference in accumulated wealth. The utility 
of consumption as an evidence of wealth is to be classed 
as a derivative growth. It is an adaptation to a new 
end, by a selective process, of a distinction previously 
existing and well established in men's habits of thought. 
In the earlier phases of the predatory culture the 
only economic differentiation is a broad distinction be- 
tween an honourable superior class made up of the able- 
bodied men on the one side, and a base inferior class of 
labouring women on the other. According to the ideal 
scheme of life in force at that time it is the office of the 
men to consume what the women produce. Such con- 
sumption as falls to the women is merely incidental to 
their work ; it is a means to their continued labour, and 
not a consumption directed to their own comfort and 
fulness of life. Unproductive consumption of goods is 
honourable, primarily as a mark of prowess and a per- 
quisite of human dignity ; secondarily it becomes sub- 
stantially honourable in itself, especially the consumption 
of the more desirable things. The consumption of 
choice articles of food, and frequently also of rare arti- 
cles of adornment, becomes tabu to the women and 
children ; and if there is a base (servile) class of men, the 
tabu holds also for them. With a further advance in 
culture this tabu may change into simple custom of a 

7O The Theory of the Leisure Class 

more or less rigorous character ; but whatever be the 
theoretical basis of the distinction which is maintained, 
whether it be a tabu or a larger conventionality, the 
features of the conventional scheme of consumption do 
not change easily. When the quasi-peaceable stage of 
industry is reached, with its fundamental institution of 
chattel slavery, the general principle, more or less rigor- 
ously applied, is that the base, industrious class should 
consume only what may be necessary to their subsist- 
ence. In the nature of things, luxuries and the com- 
forts of life belong to the leisure class. Under the tabu, 
certain victuals, and more particularly certain beverages, 
are strictly reserved for the use of the superior class. 

The ceremonial differentiation of the dietary is best 
seen in the use of intoxicating beverages and narcotics. 
If these articles of consumption are costly, they are felt 
to be noble and honorific. Therefore the base classes, 
primarily the women, practise an enforced continence 
with respect to these stimulants, except in countries 
where they are obtainable at a very low cost. From 
archaic times down through all the length of the patri- 
archal regime it has been the office of the women to 
prepare and administer these luxuries, and it has been 
the perquisite of the men of gentle birth and breeding 
to consume them. Drunkenness and the other patho- 
logical consequences of the free use of stimulants there- 
fore tend in their turn to become honorific, as being 
a mark, at the second remove, of the superior status of 
those who are able to afford the indulgence. Infirmi- 
ties induced by over-indulgence are among some peoples 
freely recognised as manly attributes. It has even hap- 

Conspicuous Consumption 71 

pened that the name for certain diseased conditions of 
the body arising from such an origin has passed into 
everyday speech as a synonym for "noble" or "gentle." 
It is only at a relatively early stage of culture that the 
symptoms of expensive vice are conventionally accepted 
as marks of a superior status, and so tend to become 
virtues and command the deference of the community ; 
but the reputability that attaches to certain expensive 
vices long retains so much of its force as to appreciably 
lessen the disapprobation visited upon the men of the 
wealthy or noble class for any excessive indulgence. 
The same invidious distinction adds force to the cur- 
rent disapproval of any indulgence of this kind on the 
part of women, minors, and inferiors. This invidious 
traditional distinction has not lost its force even among 
the more advanced peoples of to-day. Where the ex- 
ample set by the leisure class retains its imperative force 
in the regulation of the conventionalities, it is observ- 
able that the women still in great measure practise the 
same traditional continence with regard to stimulants. 

This characterisation of the greater continence in the 
use of stimulants practised by the women of the reputa- 
ble classes may seem an excessive refinement of logic 
at the expense of common sense. But facts within easy 
reach of any one who cares to know them go to say that 
the greater abstinence of women is in some part due to 
an imperative conventionality; and this convention- 
ality is, in a general way, strongest where the patri- 
archal tradition the tradition that the woman is a 
chattel has retained its hold in greatest vigour. In 
a sense which has been greatly qualified in scope and 

72 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

rigour, but which has by no means lost its meaning 
even yet, this tradition says that the woman, being a 
chattel, should consume only what is necessary to her 
sustenance, except so far as her further consumption 
contributes to the comfort or the good repute of her 
master. The consumption of luxuries, in the true sense, 
is a consumption directed to the comfort of the con- 
sumer himself, and is, therefore, a mark of the master. 
Any such consumption by others can take place only 
on a basis of sufferance. In communities where the 
popular habits of thought have been profoundly shaped 
by the patriarchal tradition we may accordingly look for 
survivals of the tabu on luxuries at least to the extent 
of a conventional deprecation of their use by the unfree 
and dependent class. This is more particularly true as 
regards certain luxuries, the use of which by the de- 
pendent class would detract sensibly from the comfort 
or pleasure of their masters, or which are held to be of 
doubtful legitimacy on other grounds. In the appre- 
hension of the great conservative middle class of West- 
ern civilisation the use of these various stimulants is 
obnoxious to at least one, if not both, of these objec- 
tions ; and it is a fact too significant to be passed over 
that it is precisely among these middle classes of the 
Germanic culture, with their strong surviving sense of 
the patriarchal proprieties, that the women are to the 
greatest extent subject to a qualified tabu on narcotics 
and alcoholic beverages. With many qualifications 
with more qualifications as the patriarchal tradition has 
gradually weakened the general rule is felt to be right 
and binding that women should consume only for the 

Conspicuous Consumption 73 

benefit of their masters. The objection of course pre- 
sents itself that expenditure on women's dress and 
household paraphernalia is an obvious exception to this 
rule ; but it will appear in the sequel that this exception 
is much more obvious than substantial. 

During the earlier stages of economic development, 
consumption of goods without stint, especially con- 
sumption of the better grades of goods, ideally all 
consumption in excess of the subsistence minimum, 
pertains normally to the leisure class. This restriction 
tends to disappear, at least formally, after the later 
peaceable stage has been reached, with private owner- 
ship of goods and an industrial system based on wage 
labour or on the petty household economy. But during 
the earlier quasi-peaceable stage, when so many of the 
traditions through which the institution of a leisure 
class has affected the economic life of later times were 
taking form and consistency, this principle has had the 
force of a conventional law. It has served as the norm 
to which consumption has tended to conform, and any 
appreciable departure from it is to be regarded as an 
aberrant form, sure to be eliminated sooner or later in 
the further course of development. 

The quasi-peaceable gentleman of leisure, then, not 
only consumes of the staff of life beyond the minimum 
required for subsistence and physical efficiency, but 
his consumption also undergoes a specialisation as re- 
gards the quality of the goods consumed. He consumes 
freely and of the best, in food, drink, narcotics, shelter, 
services, ornaments, apparel, weapons and accoutre- 
ments, amusements, amulets, and idols or divinities. In 

74 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

the process of gradual amelioration which takes place 
in the articles of his consumption, the motive principle 
and the proximate aim of innovation is no doubt the 
higher efficiency of the improved and more elaborate 
products for personal comfort and well-being. But 
that does not remain the sole purpose of their con- 
sumption. The canon of reputability is at hand and 
seizes upon such innovations as are, according to its 
standard, fit to survive. Since the consumption of 
these more excellent goods is an evidence of wealth, it 
becomes honorific ; and conversely, the failure to con- 
sume in due quantity and quality becomes a mark of 
inferiority and demerit. 

This growth of punctilious discrimination as to quali- 
tative excellence in eating, drinking, etc., presently 
affects not only the manner of life, but also the training 
and intellectual activity of the gentleman of leisure. 
He is no longer simply the successful, aggressive male, 
the man of strength, resource, and intrepidity. In 
order to avoid stultification he must also cultivate his 
tastes, for it now becomes incumbent on him to dis- 
criminate with some nicety between the noble and the 
ignoble in consumable goods. He becomes a connoisseur 
in creditable viands of various degrees of merit, in manly 
beverages and trinkets, in seemly apparel and architect- 
ure, in weapons, games, dancers, and the narcotics. 
This cultivation of the aesthetic faculty requires time 
and application, and the demands made upon the gentle- 
man in this direction therefore tend to change his life 
of leisure into a more or less arduous application to the 
business of learning how to live a life of ostensible 

Conspicuous Consumption 75 

leisure in a becoming way. Closely related to the re- 
quirement that the gentleman must consume freely and 
of the right kind of goods, there is the requirement that 
he must know how to consume them in a seemly man- 
ner. His life of leisure must be conducted in due form. 
Hence arise good manners in the way pointed out in an 
earlier chapter. High-bred manners and ways of living 
are items of conformity to the norm of conspicuous 
leisure and conspicuous consumption. 

Conspicuous consumption of valuable goods is a means 
of reputability to the gentleman of leisure. As wealth 
accumulates on his hands, his own unaided effort will 
not avail to sufficiently put his opulence in evidence 
by this method. The aid of friends and competitors is 
therefore brought in by resorting to the giving of 
valuable presents and expensive feasts and entertain- 
ments. Presents and feasts had probably another origin 
than that of naive ostentation, but they acquired their 
utility for this purpose very early, and they have re- 
tained that character to the present ; so that their 
utility in this respect has now long been the substantial 
ground on which these usages rest. Costly entertain- 
ments, such as the potlatch or the ball, are peculiarly 
adapted to serve this end. The competitor with whom 
the entertainer wishes to institute a comparison is, by 
this method, made to serve as a means to the end. He 
consumes vicariously for his host at the same time that 
he is a witness to the consumption of that excess of 
good things which his host is unable to dispose of 
single-handed, and he is also made to witness his host's 
facility in etiquette. 

76 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

In the giving of costly entertainments other motives, 
of a more genial kind, are of course also present. The 
custom of festive gatherings probably originated in 
motives of conviviality and religion ; these motives are 
also present in the later development, but they do not 
continue to be the sole motives. The latter-day leisure- 
class festivities and entertainments may continue in 
some slight degree to serve the religious need and in a 
higher degree the needs of recreation and conviviality, 
but they also serve an invidious purpose ; and they 
serve it none the less effectually for having a colourable 
non-invidious ground in these more avowable motives. 
But the economic effect of these social amenities is not 
therefore lessened, either in the vicarious consumption 
of goods or in the exhibition of difficult and costly 
achievements in etiquette. 

As wealth accumulates, the leisure class develops 
further in function and structure, and there arises a 
differentiation within the class. There is a more or less 
elaborate system of rank and grades. This differentia- 
tion is furthered by the inheritance of wealth and the 
consequent inheritance of gentility. With the inheri- 
tance of gentility goes the inheritance of obligatory lei- 
sure ; and gentility of a sufficient potency to entail a life 
of leisure may be inherited without the complement of 
wealth required to maintain a dignified leisure. Gentle 
blood may be transmitted without goods enough to 
afford a reputably free consumption at one's ease. 
Hence results a class of impecunious gentlemen of lei- 
sure, incidentally referred to already. These half-caste 
gentlemen of leisure fall into a system of hierarchical 

Conspicuous Consumption 77 

gradations. Those who stand near the higher and the 
highest grades of the wealthy leisure class, in point of 
birth, or in point of wealth, or both, outrank the 
remoter-born and the pecuniarily weaker. These 
lower grades, especially the impecunious, or marginal, 
gentlemen of leisure, affiliate themselves by a system 
of dependence or fealty to the great ones ; by so doing 
they gain an increment of repute, or of the means with 
which to lead a life of leisure, from their patron. They 
become his courtiers or retainers, servants ; and being 
fed and countenanced by their patron they are indices 
of his rank and vicarious consumers of his superfluous 
wealth. Many of these affiliated gentlemen of leisure 
are at the same time lesser men of substance in their 
own right ; so that some of them are scarcely at all, 
others only partially, to be rated as vicarious consumers. 
So many of them, however, as make up the retainers 
and hangers-on of the patron may be classed as vica- 
rious consumers without qualification. Many of these 
again, and also many of the other aristocracy of less 
degree, have in turn attached to their persons a more 
or less comprehensive group of vicarious consumers in 
the persons of their wives and children, their servants, 
retainers, etc. 

Throughout this graduated scheme of vicarious lei- 
sure and vicarious consumption the rule holds that these 
offices must be performed in some such manner, or 
under some such circumstance or insignia, as shall 
point plainly to the master to whom this leisure or 
consumption pertains, and to whom therefore the re- 
sulting increment of good repute of right inures. The 

78 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

consumption and leisure executed by these persons for 
their master or patron represents an investment on his 
part with a view to an increase of good fame. As 
regards feasts and largesses this is obvious enough, and 
the imputation of repute to the host or patron here 
takes place immediately, on the ground of common 
notoriety. Where leisure and consumption is per- 
formed vicariously by henchmen and retainers, imputa- 
tion of the resulting repute to the patron is effected by 
their residing near his person so that it may be plain 
to all men from what source they draw. As the group 
whose good esteem is to be secured in this way grows 
larger, more patent means are required to indicate the 
imputation of merit for the leisure performed, and to 
this end uniforms, badges, and liveries come into vogue. 
The wearing of uniforms or liveries implies a considera- 
ble degree of dependence, and may even be said to be 
a mark of servitude," real or ostensible. The wearers 
of uniforms and liveries may be roughly divided into 
two classes the free and the servile, or the noble and 
the ignoble. The services performed by them are like- 
wise divisible into noble and ignoble. Of course the 
distinction is not observed with strict consistency in 
practice ; the less debasing of the base services and the 
less honorific of the noble functions are not infre- 
quently merged in the same person. But the general 
distinction is not on that account to be overlooked. 
What may add some perplexity is the fact that this 
fundamental distinction between noble and ignoble, 
which rests on the nature of the ostensible service per- 
formed, is traversed by a secondary distinction into 

Conspicuous Consumption 79 

honorific and humiliating, resting on the rank of the 
person for whom the service is performed or whose 
livery is worn. So, those offices which are by right 
the proper employment of the leisure class are noble ; 
such are government, fighting, hunting, the care of 
arms and accoutrements, and the like, in short, those 
which may be classed as ostensibly predatory employ- 
ments. On the other hand, those employments which 
properly fall to the industrious class are ignoble ; such 
as handicraft or other productive labour, menial services, 
and the' like. But a base service performed for a per- 
son of very high degree may become a very honorific 
office ; as for instance the office of a Maid of Honour or 
of a Lady in Waiting to the Queen, or the King's 
Master of the Horse or his Keeper of the Hounds. 
The two offices last named suggest a principle of some 
general bearing. Whenever, as in these cases, the menial 
service in question has to do directly with the primary 
leisure employments of fighting and hunting, it easily 
acquires a reflected honorific character. In this way 
great honour may come to attach to an employment 
which in its own nature belongs to the baser sort. 

In -the later development of peaceable industry, the 
usage of employing an idle corps of uniformed men- 
at-arms gradually lapses. Vicarious consumption by 
dependents bearing the insignia of their patron or 
master narrows down to a corps of liveried menials. 
In a heightened degree, therefore, the livery comes 
to be a badge of servitude, or rather of servility. 
Something of a honorific character always attached 
to the livery of the armed retainer, but this honorific 

8o The Theory of the Leisure Class 

character disappears when the livery becomes the 
exclusive badge of the menial. The livery becomes 
obnoxious to nearly all who are required to wear it. 
We are yet so little removed from a state of effective 
slavery as still to be fully sensitive to the sting of any 
imputation of servility. This antipathy asserts itself 
even in the case of the liveries or uniforms which 
some corporations prescribe as the distinctive dress 
of their employees. In this country the aversion even 
goes the length of discrediting in a mild and uncer- 
tain way those government employments, military 
and civil, which require the wearing of a livery or 

With the disappearance of servitude, the number 
of vicarious consumers attached to any one gentle- 
man tends, on the whole, to decrease. The like is 
of course true, and perhaps in a still higher degree, 
of the number of dependents who perform vicarious 
leisure for him. In a general way, though not wholly 
nor consistently, these two groups coincide. The de- 
pendent who was first delegated for these duties was 
the wife, or the chief wife ; and, as would be ex- 
pected, in the later development of the institution, 
when the number of persons by whom these duties 
are customarily performed gradually narrows, the wife 
remains the last. In the higher grades of society a 
large volume of both these kinds of service is re- 
quired ; and here the wife is of course still assisted 
in the work by a more or less numerous corps of 
menials. But as we descend the social scale, the 
point is presently reached where the duties of vicari- 

Conspicuous Consumption 8 1 

ous leisure and consumption devolve upon the wife 
alone. In the communities of the Western culture, 
this point is at present found among the lower middle 

And here occurs a curious inversion. It is a fact 
of common observation that in this lower middle class 
there is no pretence of leisure on the part of the 
head of the household. Through force of circum- 
stances it has fallen into disuse. But the middle-class 
wife still carries on the business of vicarious leisure, 
for the good name of the household and its master. 
In descending the social scale in any modern indus- 
trial community, the primary fact the conspicuous 
leisure of the master of the household disappears 
at a relatively high point. The head of the middle- 
class household has been reduced by economic cir- 
cumstances to turn his hand to gaining a livelihood 
by occupations which often partake largely of the 
character of industry, as in the case of the ordinary 
business man of to-day. But the derivative fact 
the vicarious leisure and consumption rendered by 
the wife, and the auxiliary vicarious performance of 
leisure by menials remains in vogue as a conven- 
tionality which the demands of reputability will not 
suffer to be slighted. It is by no means an uncom- 
mon spectacle to find a man applying himself to 
work with the utmost assiduity, in order that his 
wife may in due form render for him that degree of 
vicarious leisure which the common sense of the 
time demands. 

The leisure rendered by the wife in such cases is, of 

82 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

course, not a simple manifestation of idleness or indo- 
lence. It almost invariably occurs disguised under some 
form of work or household duties or social amenities, 
which prove on analysis to serve little or no ulterior 
end beyond showing that she does not and need not 
occupy herself with anything that is gainful or that is 
of substantial use. As has already been noticed under 
the head of manners, the greater part of the customary 
round of domestic cares to which the middle-class house- 
wife gives her time and effort is of this character. Not 
that the results of her attention to household matters, 
of a decorative and mundificatory character, are not 
pleasing to the sense of men trained in middle-class 
proprieties ; but the taste to which these effects of 
household adornment and tidiness appeal is a taste 
which has been formed under the selective guidance of 
a canon of propriety that demands just these evidences 
of wasted effort. The effects are pleasing to us chiefly 
because we have been taught to find them pleasing. 
There goes into these domestic duties much solicitude 
for a proper combination of form and colour, and for 
other ends that are to be classed as aesthetic in the 
proper sense of the term ; and it is not denied that 
effects having some substantial aesthetic value are some- 
times attained. Pretty much all that is here insisted on 
is that, as regards these amenities of life, the housewife's 
efforts are under the guidance of traditions that have 
been shaped by the law of conspicuously wasteful ex- 
penditure of time and substance. If beauty or comfort 
is achieved, and it is a more or less fortuitous circum- 
stance if they are, they must be achieved by means 

Conspicuous Consumption 83 

and methods that commend themselves to the great 
economic law of wasted effort. The more reputable, 
"presentable" portion of middle-class household para- 
phernalia are, on the one hand, items of conspicuous 
consumption, and on the other hand, apparatus for 
putting in evidence the vicarious leisure rendered by 
the housewife. 

The requirement of vicarious consumption at the 
hands of the wife continues in force even at a lower 
point in the pecuniary scale than the requirement of 
vicarious leisure. At a point below which little if any 
pretence of wasted effort, in ceremonial cleanness and 
the like, is observable, and where there is assuredly no 
conscious attempt at ostensible leisure, decency still 
requires the wife to consume some goods conspicuously 
for the reputability of the household and its head. So 
that, as the latter-day outcome of this evolution of an 
archaic institution, the wife, who was at the outset the 
drudge and chattel of the man, both in fact and in 
theory, the producer of goods for him to consume, 
has become the ceremonial consumer of goods which he 
produces. But she still quite unmistakably remains his 
chattel in theory ; for the habitual rendering of vicarious 
leisure and consumption is the abiding mark of the un- 
free servant. 

This vicarious consumption practised by the house- 
hold of the middle and lower classes can not be counted 
as a direct expression of the leisure-class scheme of life, 
since the household of this pecuniary grade does not 
belong within the leisure class. It is rather that the 
leisure-class scheme of life here comes to an expression 

84 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

at the second remove. The leisure class stands at the 
head of the social structure in point of reputability ; and 
its manner of life and its standards of worth therefore 
afford the norm of reputability for the community. The 
observance of these standards, in some degree of ap- 
proximation, becomes incumbent upon all classes lower 
in the scale. In modern civilized communities the 
lines of demarcation between social classes have grown 
vague and transient, and wherever this happens the 
norm of reputability imposed by the upper class ex- 
tends its coercive influence with but slight hindrance 
down through the social structure to the lowest strata. 
The result is that the members of each stratum accept 
as their ideal of decency the scheme of life in vogue in 
the next higher stratum, and bend their energies to live 
up to that ideal. On pain of forfeiting their good name 
and their self-respect in case of failure, they must con- 
form to the accepted code, at least in appearance. 

The basis on which good repute in any highly organ- 
ised industrial community ultimately rests is pecuniary 
strength ; and the means of showing pecuniary strength, 
and so of gaining or retaining a good name, are leisure 
and a conspicuous consumption of goods. Accordingly, 
both of these methods are in vogue as far down the 
scale as it remains possible ; and in the lower strata in 
which the two methods are employed, both offices are 
in great part delegated to the wife and children of the 
household. Lower still, where any degree of leisure, 
even ostensible, has become impracticable for the wife, 
the conspicuous consumption of goods remains and is 
carried on by the wife and children. The man of the 

Conspicuous Consumption 85 

household also can do something in this direction, and, 
indeed, he commonly does ; but with a still lower de- 
scent into the levels of indigence along the margin 
of the slums the man, and presently also the children, 
virtually cease to consume valuable goods for appear- 
ances, and the woman remains virtually the sole expo- 
nent of the household's pecuniary decency. No class 
of society, not even the most abjectly poor, foregoes all 
customary conspicuous consumption. The last items 
of this category of consumption are not given up ex- 
cept under stress of the direst necessity. Very much 
of squalor and discomfort will be endured before the 
last trinket or the last pretence of pecuniary decency is 
put away. There is no class and no country that has 
yielded so abjectly before the pressure of physical want 
as to deny themselves all gratification of this higher or 
spiritual need. 

From the foregoing survey of the growth of con- 
spicuous leisure and consumption, it appears that the 
utility of both alike for the purposes of reputability lies 
in the element of waste that is common to both. In the 
one case it is a waste of time and effort, in the other it 
is a waste of goods. Both are methods of demonstrat- 
ing the possession of wealth, and the two are conven- 
tionally accepted as equivalents. The choice between 
them is a question of advertising expediency simply, ex- 
cept so far as it may be affected by other standards of 
propriety, springing from a different source. On grounds 
of expediency the preference may be given to the one 
or the other at different stages of the economic develop- 

86 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

ment. The question is, which of the two methods will 
most effectively reach the persons whose convictions it 
is desired to affect. Usage has answered this question 
in different ways under different circumstances. 

So long as the community or social group is small 
enough and compact enough to be effectually reached 
by common notoriety alone, that is to say, so long as 
the human environment to which the individual is re- 
quired to adapt himself in respect of reputability is com- 
prised within his sphere of personal acquaintance and 
neighbourhood gossip, so long the one method is about 
as effective as the other. Each will therefore serve 
about equally well during the earlier stages of social 
growth. But when the differentiation has gone farther 
and it becomes necessary to reach a wider human envi- 
ronment, consumption begins to hold over leisure as an 
ordinary means of decency. This is especially true dur- 
ing the later, peaceable economic stage. The means of 
communication and the mobility of the population now 
expose the individual to the observation of many persons 
who have no other means of judging of his reputability 
than the display of goods (and perhaps of breeding) 
which he is able to make while he is under their direct 

The modern organisation of industry works in the 
same direction also by another line. The exigencies of 
the modern industrial system frequently place individ- 
uals and households in juxtaposition between whom there 
is little contact in any other sense than that of jux- 
taposition. One's neighbours, mechanically speaking, 
often are socially not one's neighbours, or even acquaint- 

Conspicuous Consumption 87 

ances ; and still their transient good opinion has a high 
degree of utility. The only practicable means of im- 
pressing one's pecuniary ability on these unsympathetic 
observers of one's everyday life is an unremitting dem- 
onstration of ability to pay. In the modern community 
there is also a more frequent attendance at large gath- 
erings of people to whom one's everyday life is un- 
known ; in such places as churches, theatres, ballrooms, 
hotels, parks, shops, and the like. In order to impress 
these transient observers, and to retain one's self-com- 
placency under their observation, the signature of one's 
pecuniary strength should be written in characters 
which he who runs may read. It is evident, therefore, 
that the present trend of the development is in the 
direction of heightening the utility of conspicuous con- 
sumption as compared with leisure. 

It is also noticeable that the serviceability of con- 
sumption as a means of repute, as well as the insistence 
on it as an element of decency, is at its best in those 
portions of the community where the human contact 
of the individual is widest and the mobility of the popu- 
lation is greatest. Conspicuous consumption claims a 
relatively larger portion of the income of the urban 
than of the rural population, and the claim is also more 
imperative. The result is that, in order to keep up a 
decent appearance, the former habitually live hand-to- 
mouth to a greater extent than the latter. So it comes, 
for instance, that the American farmer and his wife and 
daughters are notoriously less modish in their dress, 
as well as less urbane in their manners, than the 
city artisan's family with an equal income. It is not 

88 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

that the city population is by nature much more eager 
for the peculiar complacency that comes of a conspicu- 
ous consumption, nor has the rural population less re- 
gard for pecuniary decency. But the provocation to this 
line of evidence, as well as its transient effectiveness, 
are more decided in the city. This method is therefore 
more readily resorted to, and in the struggle to outdo 
one another the city population push their normal 
standard of conspicuous consumption to a higher point, 
with the result that a relatively greater expenditure in 
this direction is required to indicate a given degree of 
pecuniary decency in the city. The requirement of 
conformity to this higher conventional standard becomes 
mandatory. The standard of decency is higher, class 
for class, and this requirement of decent appearance 
must be lived up to on pain of losing caste. 

Consumption becomes a larger element in the stand- 
ard of living in the city than in the country. Among 
the country population its place is to some extent taken 
by savings and home comforts known through the 
medium of neighbourhood gossip sufficiently to serve 
the like general purpose of pecuniary repute. These 
home comforts and the leisure indulged in where the 
indulgence is found are of course also in great part 
to be classed as items of conspicuous consumption ; 
and much the same is to be said of the savings. The 
smaller amount of the savings laid by by the artisan 
class is no doubt due, in some measure, to the fact that 
in the case of the artisan the savings are a less effective 
means of advertisement, relative to the environment in 
which he is placed, than are the savings of the people 

Conspicuous Consumption 89 

living on farms and in the small villages. Among the 
latter, everybody's affairs, especially everybody's pecuni- 
ary status, are known to everybody else. Considered by 
itself simply taken in the first degree this added 
provocation to which the artisan and the urban labour- 
ing classes are exposed may not very seriously decrease 
the amount of savings ; but in its cumulative action, 
through raising the standard of decent expenditure, its 
deterrent effect on the tendency to save cannot but be 
very great. 

A felicitous illustration of the manner in which this 
canon of reputability works out its results is seen in 
the practice of dram-drinking, " treating," and smoking 
in public places, which is customary among the labour- 
ers and handicraftsmen of the towns, and among the 
lower middle class of the urban population generally. 
Journeymen printers may be named as a class among 
whom this form of conspicuous consumption has a 
great vogue, and among whom it carries with it certain 
well-marked consequences that are often deprecated. 
The peculiar habits of the class in this respect are com- 
monly set down to some kind of an ill-defined moral 
deficiency with which this class is credited, or to a 
morally deleterious influence which their occupation 
is supposed to exert, in some unascertainable way, upon 
the men employed in it. The state of the case for the 
men who work in the composition and press rooms of 
the common run of printing-houses may be summed up 
as follows. Skill acquired in any printing-house or any 
city is easily turned to account in almost any other 
house or city ; that is to say, the inertia due to special 

90 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

training is slight. Also, this occupation requires more 
than the average of intelligence and general informa- 
tion, and the men employed in it are therefore ordinarily 
more ready than many others to take advantage of any 
slight variation in the demand for their labour from one 
place to another. The inertia due to the home feeling 
is consequently also slight. At the same time the 
wages in the trade are high enough to make movement 
from place to place relatively easy. The result is a 
great mobility of the labour employed in printing ; per- 
haps greater than in any other equally well-defined and 
considerable body of workmen. These men are con- 
stantly thrown in contact with new groups of acquaint- 
ances, with whom the relations established are transient 
or ephemeral, but whose good opinion is valued none 
the less for the time being. The human proclivity to 
ostentation, reenforced by sentiments of goodfellowship, 
leads them to spend freely in those directions which will 
best serve these needs. Here as elsewhere prescrip- 
tion seizes upon the custom as soon as it gains a vogue, 
and incorporates it in the accredited standard of de- 
cency. The next step is to make this standard of 
decency the point of departure for a new move in ad- 
vance in the same direction, for there is no merit in 
simple spiritless conformity to a standard of dissipation 
that is lived up to as a matter of course by every one in 
the trade. 

The greater prevalence of dissipation among printers 
than among the average of workmen is accordingly 
attributable, at least in some measure, to the greater 
ease of movement and the more transient character of 

Conspicuous Consumption 91 

acquaintance and human contact in this trade. But the 
substantial ground of this high requirement in dissipa- 
tion is in the last analysis no other than that same pro- 
pensity for a manifestation of dominance and pecuniary 
decency which makes the French peasant-proprietor 
parsimonious and frugal, and induces the American 
millionaire to found colleges, hospitals and museums. 
If the canon of conspicuous consumption were not off- 
set to a considerable extent by other features of human 
nature, alien to it, any saving should logically be impos- 
sible for a population situated as the artisan and labour- 
ing classes of the cities are at present, however high 
their wages or their income might be. 

But there are other standards of repute and other, 
more or less imperative, canons of conduct, besides wealth 
and its manifestation, and some of these come in to ac- 
centuate or to qualify the broad, fundamental canon of 
conspicuous waste. Under the simple test of effective- 
ness for advertising, we should expect to find leisure and 
the conspicuous consumption of goods dividing the field 
of pecuniary emulation pretty evenly between them at 
the outset. Leisure might then be expected gradually 
to yield ground and tend to obsolescence as the economic 
development goes forward, and the community increases 
in size ; while the conspicuous consumption of goods 
should gradually gain in importance, both absolutely 
and relatively, until it had absorbed all the available 
product, leaving nothing over beyond a bare livelihood. 
But the actual course of development has been some- 
what different from this ideal scheme. Leisure held 
the first place at the start, and came to hold a rank very 

92 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

much above wasteful consumption of goods, both as a 
direct exponent of wealth and as an element in the 
standard of decency, during the quasi-peaceable culture. 
From that point onward, consumption has gained ground, 
until, at present, it unquestionably holds the primacy, 
though it is still far from absorbing the entire margin of 
production above the subsistence minimum. 

The early ascendency of leisure as a means of reputa- 
bility is traceable to the archaic distinction between 
noble and ignoble employments. Leisure is honourable 
and becomes imperative partly because it shows exemp- 
tion from ignoble labour. The archaic differentiation 
into noble and ignoble classes is based on an invidious 
distinction between employments as honorific or de- 
basing ; and this traditional distinction grows into an 
imperative canon of decency during the early quasi- 
peaceable stage. Its ascendency is furthered by the 
fact that leisure is still fully as effective an evidence of 
wealth as consumption. Indeed, so effective is it in the 
relatively small and stable human environment to which 
the individual is exposed at that cultural stage, that, with 
the aid of the archaic tradition which deprecates all 
productive labour, it gives rise to a large impecunious 
leisure class, and it even tends to limit the production 
of the community's industry to the subsistence mini- 
mum. This extreme inhibition of industry is avoided 
because slave labour, working under a compulsion more 
rigorous than that of reputability, is forced to turn out 
a product in excess of the subsistence minimum of the 
working class. The subsequent relative decline in the 
use of conspicuous leisure as a basis of repute is due 

Conspicuous Consumption 93 

partly to an increasing relative effectiveness of con- 
sumption as an evidence of wealth ; but in part it is 
traceable to another force, alien, and in some degree 
antagonistic, to the usage of conspicuous waste. 

This alien factor is the instinct of workmanship. 
Other circumstances permitting, that instinct disposes 
men to look with favour upon productive efficiency and 
on whatever is of human use. It disposes them to 
deprecate waste of substance or effort. The instinct 
of workmanship is present in all men, and asserts itself 
even under very adverse circumstances. So that how- 
ever wasteful a given expenditure may be in reality, it 
must at least have some colourable excuse in the way of 
an ostensible purpose. The manner in which, under 
special circumstances, the instinct eventuates in a taste 
for exploit and an invidious discrimination between 
noble and ignoble classes has been indicated in an 
earlier chapter. In so far as it comes into conflict with 
the law of conspicuous waste, the instinct of workman- 
ship expresses itself not so much in insistence on sub- 
stantial usefulness as in an abiding sense of the odious- 
ness and aesthetic impossibility of what is obviously 
futile. Being of the nature of an instinctive affection, 
its guidance touches chiefly and immediately the obvious 
and apparent violations of its requirements. It is only 
less promptly and with less constraining force that it 
reaches such substantial violations of its requirements 
as are appreciated only upon reflection. 

So long as all labour continues to be performed ex- 
clusively or usually by slaves, the baseness of all pro- 
ductive effort is too constantly and deterrently present 

94 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

in the mind of men to allow the instinct of workmanship 
seriously to take effect in the direction of industrial 
usefulness; but when the quasi-peaceable stage (with 
slavery and status) passes into the peaceable stage of 
industry (with wage labour and cash payment), the in- 
stinct comes more effectively into play. It then begins 
aggressively to shape men's views of what is meritori- 
ous, and asserts itself at least as an auxiliary canon of 
self-complacency. All extraneous considerations apart, 
those persons (adults) are but a vanishing minority to- 
day who harbour no inclination to the accomplishment of 
some end, or who are not impelled of their own motion 
to shape some object or fact or relation for human use. 
The propensity may in large measure be overborne by 
the more immediately constraining incentive to a reputa- 
ble leisure and an avoidance of indecorous usefulness, 
and it may therefore work itself out in make-believe 
only; as for instance in "social duties," and in quasi- 
artistic or quasi-scholarly accomplishments, in the care 
and decoration of the house, in sewing-circle activity or 
dress reform, in proficiency at dress, cards, yachting, 
golf, and various sports. But the fact that it may under 
stress of circumstances eventuate in inanities no more 
disproves the presence of the instinct than the reality 
of the brooding instinct is disproved by inducing a hen 
to sit on a nestful of china eggs. 

This latter-day uneasy reaching-out for some form of 
purposeful activity that shall at the same time not be 
indecorously productive of either individual or collective 
gain marks a difference of attitude between the modern 
leisure class and that of the quasi-peaceable stage. At 

Conspicuous Consumption 95 

the earlier stage, as was said above, the all-dominating 
institution of slavery and status acted resistlessly to dis- 
countenance exertion directed to other than naively 
predatory ends. It was still possible to find some 
habitual employment for the inclination to action in the 
way of forcible aggression or repression directed against 
hostile groups or against the subject classes within the 
group; and this served to relieve the pressure and draw 
off the energy of the leisure class without a resort to 
actually useful, or even ostensibly useful employments. 
The practice of hunting also served the same purpose in 
some degree. When the community developed into a 
peaceful industrial organisation, -and when fuller occu- 
pation of the land had reduced the opportunities for the 
hunt to an inconsiderable residue, the pressure of energy 
seeking purposeful employment was left to find an out- 
let in some other direction. The ignominy which at- 
taches to useful effort also entered upon a less acute 
phase with the disappearance of compulsory labour ; 
and the instinct of workmanship then came to assert 
itself with more persistence and consistency. 

The line of least resistance has changed in some 
measure, and the energy which formerly found a vent 
in predatory activity, now in part takes the direction 
of some ostensibly useful end. Ostensibly purposeless 
leisure has come to be deprecated, especially among 
that large portion of the leisure class whose plebeian 
origin acts to set them at variance with the tradition 
of the otium cum dignitate. But that canon of reputa- 
bility which discountenances all employment that is of 
the nature of productive effort is still at hand, and will 

96 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

permit nothing beyond the most transient vogue to any 
employment that is substantially useful or productive. 
The consequence is that a change has been wrought in 
the conspicuous leisure practised by the leisure class ; 
not so much in substance as in form. A reconciliation 
between the two conflicting requirements is effected by 
a resort to make-believe. Many and intricate polite 
observances and social duties of a ceremonial nature 
are developed ; many organisations are founded, with 
some specious object of amelioration embodied in their 
official style and title ; there is much coming and going, 
and a deal of talk, to the end that the talkers may 
not have occasion to reflect on what is the effectual 
economic value of their traffic. And along with the 
make-believe of purposeful employment, and woven in- 
extricably into its texture, there is commonly, if not 
invariably, a more or less appreciable element of pur- 
poseful effort directed to some serious end. 

In the narrower sphere of vicarious leisure a similar 
change has gone forward. Instead of simply passing 
her time in visible idleness, as in the best days of the 
patriarchal regime, the housewife of the advanced peace- 
able stage applies herself assiduously to household cares. 
The salient features of this development of domestic 
service have already been indicated. 

Throughout the entire evolution of conspicuous ex- 
penditure, whether of goods or of services or human 
life, runs the obvious implication that in order to effect- 
ually mend the consumer's good fame it must be an 
expenditure of superfluities. In order to be reputable 
it must be wasteful. No merit would accrue from the 

Conspicuous Consumption 97 

consumption of the bare necessaries of life, except by 
comparison with the abjectly poor who fall short even 
of the subsistence minimum ; and no standard of ex- 
penditure could result from such a comparison, except 
the most prosaic and unattractive level of decency. A 
standard of life would still be possible which should 
admit of invidious comparison in other respects than 
that of opulence ; as, for instance, a comparison in vari- 
ous directions in the manifestation of moral, physical, 
intellectual, or aesthetic force. Comparison in all these 
directions is in vogue to-day ; and the comparison made 
in these respects is commonly so inextricably bound up 
with the pecuniary comparison as to be scarcely distin- 
guishable from the latter. This is especially true as 
regards the current rating of expressions of intellectual 
and aesthetic force or proficiency ; so that we frequently 
interpret as aesthetic or intellectual a difference which 
in substance is pecuniary only. 

The use of the term "waste" is in one respect an 
unfortunate one. As used in the speech of everyday 
life the word carries an undertone of deprecation. 
It is here used for want of a better term that will 
adequately describe the same range of motives and of 
phenomena, and it is not to be taken in an odious sense, 
as implying an illegitimate expenditure of human prod- 
ucts or of human life. In the view of economic theory 
the expenditure in question is no more and no less 
legitimate than any other expenditure. It is here called 
" waste " because this expenditure does not serve human 
life or human well-being on the whole, not because it is 

98 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

waste or misdirection of effort or expenditure as viewed 
from the standpoint of the individual consumer who 
chooses it. If he chooses it, that disposes of the ques- 
tion of its relative utility to him, as compared with 
other forms of consumption that would not be depre- 
cated on account of their wastefulness. Whatever form 
of expenditure the consumer chooses, or whatever end 
he seeks in making his choice, has utility to him by 
virtue of his preference. As seen from the point of 
view of the individual consumer, the question of waste- 
fulness does not arise within the scope of economic 
theory proper. The use of the word "waste" as a 
technical term, therefore, implies no deprecation of the 
motives or of the ends sought by the consumer under 
this canon of conspicuous waste. 

But it is, on other grounds, worth noting that the 
term " waste " in the language of everyday life implies 
deprecation of what is characterised as wasteful. This 
common-sense implication is itself an outcropping of 
the instinct of workmanship. The popular reproba- 
tion of waste goes to say that in order to be at peace 
with himself the common man must be able to see in 
any and all human effort and human enjoyment an 
enhancement of life and well-being on the whole. In 
order to meet with unqualified approval, any eco- 
nomic fact must approve itself under the test of imper- 
sonal usefulness usefulness as seen from the point 
of view of the generically human. Relative or com- 
petitive advantage of one individual in comparison with 
another does not satisfy the economic conscience, and 
therefore competitive expenditure has not the approval 
of this conscience. 

Conspicuous Consumption 99 

In strict accuracy nothing should be included under 
the head of conspicuous waste but such expenditure as 
is incurred on the ground of an invidious pecuniary 
comparison. But in order to bring any given item or 
element in under this head it is not necessary that it 
should be recognised as waste in this sense by the per- 
son incurring the expenditure. It frequently happens 
that an element of the standard of living which set out 
with being primarily wasteful, ends with becoming, in 
the apprehension of the consumer, a necessary of life ; 
and it may in this way become as indispensable as any 
other item of the consumer's habitual expenditure. As 
items which sometimes fall under this head, and are 
therefore available as illustrations of the manner in 
which this principle applies, may be cited carpets and 
tapestries, silver table service, waiter's services, silk 
hats, starched linen, many articles of jewellery and of 
dress. The indispensability of these things after the 
habit and the convention have been formed, however, 
has little to say in the classification of expenditures as 
waste or not waste in the technical meaning of the 
word. The test to which all expenditure must be 
brought in an attempt to decide that point is the ques- 
tion whether it serves directly to enhance human life 
on the whole whether it furthers the life process 
taken impersonally. For this is the basis of award of 
the instinct of workmanship, and that instinct is the 
court of final appeal in any question of economic truth 
or adequacy. It is a question as to the award rendered 
by a dispassionate common sense. The question is, 
therefore, not whether, under the existing circum- 

ioo The Theory of the Leisure Class 

stances of individual habit and social custom, a given 
expenditure conduces to the particular consumer's grati- 
fication or peace of mind; but whether, aside from 
acquired tastes and from the canons of usage and con- 
ventional decency, its result is a net gain in comfort or 
in the fulness of life. Customary expenditure must be 
classed under the head of waste in so far as the custom 
on which it rests is traceable to the habit of making an 
invidious pecuniary comparison in so far as it is con- 
ceived that it could not have become customary and 
prescriptive without the backing of this principle of 
pecuniary reputability or relative economic success. 

It is obviously not necessary that a given object of 
expenditure should be exclusively wasteful in order to 
come in under the category of conspicuous waste. An 
article may be useful and wasteful both, and its utility 
to the consumer may be made up of use and waste in the 
most varying proportions. Consumable goods, and even 
productive goods, generally show the two elements in 
combination, as constituents of their utility; although, 
in a general way, the element of waste tends to pre- 
dominate in articles of consumption, while the contrary 
is true of articles designed for productive use. Even 
in articles which appear at first glance to serve for pure 
ostentation only, it is always possible to detect the 
presence of some, at least ostensible, useful purpose; 
and on the other hand, even in special machinery and 
tools contrived for some particular industrial process, 
as well as in the rudest appliances of human industry, 
the traces of conspicuous waste, or at least of the habit 
of ostentation, usually become evident on a close scru- 

Conspicuous Consumption 101 

tiny. It would be hazardous to assert that a useful 
purpose is ever absent from the utility of any article or 
of any service, however obviously its prime purpose and 
chief element is conspicuous waste; and it would be 
only less hazardous to assert of any primarily useful 
product that the element of waste is in no way con- 
cerned in its value, immediately or remotely. 


FOR the great body of the people in any modern 
community, the proximate ground of expenditure in 
excess of what is required for physical comfort is not 
a conscious effort to excel in the expensiveness of 
their visible consumption, so much as it is a desire 
to live up to the conventional standard of decency in 
the amount and grade of goods consumed. This de- 
sire is not guided by a rigidly invariable standard, 
which must be lived up to, and beyond which there 
is no incentive to go. The standard is flexible; and 
especially it is indefinitely extensible, if only time is 
allowed for habituation to any increase in pecuniary 
ability and for acquiring facility in the new and 
larger scale of expenditure that follows such an in- 
crease. It is much more difficult to recede from a 
scale of expenditure once adopted than it is to ex- 
tend the accustomed scale in response to an accession 
of wealth. Many items of customary expenditure prove 
on analysis to be almost purely wasteful, and they are 
therefore honorific only, but after they have once been 
incorporated into the scale of decent consumption, and so 
have become an integral part of one's scheme of life, it 
is quite as hard to give up these as it is to give up many 

The Pecuniary Standard of Living 103 

items that conduce directly to one's physical comfort, or 
even that may be necessary to life and health. That is 
to say, the conspicuously wasteful honorific expenditure 
that confers spiritual well-being may become more in- 
dispensable than much of that expenditure which min- 
isters to the "lower" wants of physical well-being or 
sustenance only. It is notoriously just as difficult to 
recede from a " high " standard of living as it is to 
lower a standard which is already relatively low; al- 
though in the former case the difficulty is a moral one, 
while in the latter it may involve a material deduction 
from the physical comforts of life. 

But while retrogression is difficult, a fresh advance 
in conspicuous expenditure is relatively easy ; indeed, 
it takes place almost as a matter of course. In the rare 
cases where it occurs, a failure to increase one's visible 
consumption when the means for an increase are at 
hand is felt in popular apprehension to call for explana- 
tion, and unworthy motives of miserliness are imputed 
to those who fall short in this respect. A prompt re- 
sponse to the stimulus, on the other hand, is accepted 
as the normal effect. This suggests that the standard 
of expenditure which commonly guides our efforts is 
not the average, ordinary expenditure already achieved ; 
it is an ideal of consumption that lies just beyond our 
reach, or to reach which requires some strain. The 
motive is emulation the stimulus of an invidious com- 
parison which prompts us to outdo those with whom we 
are in the habit of classing ourselves. Substantially the 
same proposition is expressed in the commonplace re- 
mark that each class envies and emulates the class next 

IO4 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

above it in the social scale, while it rarely compares 
itself with those below or with those who are consider- 
ably in advance. That is to say, in other words, our 
standard of decency in expenditure, as in other ends of 
emulation, is set by the usage of those next above us 
in reputability ; until, in this way, especially in any 
community where class distinctions are somewhat vague, 
all canons of reputability and decency, and all standards 
of consumption, are traced back by insensible grada- 
tions to the usages and habits of thought of the highest 
social and pecuniary class the wealthy leisure class. 

It is for this class to determine, in general outline, 
what scheme of life the community shall accept as 
decent or honorific ; and it is their office by precept 
and example to set forth this scheme of social salvation 
in its highest, ideal form. But the higher leisure class 
can exercise this quasi-sacerdotal office only under cer- 
tain material limitations. The class cannot at discre- 
tion effect a sudden revolution or reversal of the popular 
habits of thought with respect to any of these ceremo- 
nial requirements. It takes time for any change to per- 
meate the mass and change the habitual attitude of the 
people ; and especially it takes time to change the habits 
of those classes that are socially more remote from the 
radiant body. The process is slower where the mobility 
of the population is less or where the intervals between 
the several classes are wider and more abrupt. But if 
time be allowed, the scope of the discretion of the lei- 
sure class as regards questions of form and detail in the 
community's scheme of life is large ; while as regards 
the substantial principles of reputability, the changes 

The Pecuniary Standard of Living 105 

which it can effect lie within a narrow margin of toler- 
ance. Its example and precept carries the force of pre- 
scription for all classes below it ; but in working out the 
precepts which are handed down as governing the form 
and method of reputability in shaping the usages and 
the spiritual attitude of the lower classes this author- 
itative prescription constantly works under the selective 
guidance of the canon of conspicuous waste, tempered 
in varying degree by the instinct of workmanship. To 
these norms is to be added another broad principle of 
human nature the predatory animus which in point 
of generality and of psychological content lies between 
the two just named. The effect of the latter in shaping 
the accepted scheme of life is yet to be discussed. 

The canon of reputability, then, must adapt itself to 
the economic circumstances, the traditions, and the 
degree of spiritual maturity of the particular class 
whose scheme of life it is to regulate. It is especially 
to be noted that however high its authority and how- 
ever true to the fundamental requirements of reputa- 
bility it may have been at its inception, a specific 
formal observance can under no circumstances maintain 
itself in force if with the lapse of time or on its trans- 
mission to a lower pecuniary class it is found to run 
counter to the ultimate ground of decency among civil- 
ised peoples, namely, serviceability for the purpose of 
an invidious comparison in pecuniary success. 

It is evident that these canons of expenditure have 
much to say in determining the standard of living 
for any community and for any class. It is no less 
evident that the standard of living which prevails at 

IO6 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

any time or at any given social altitude will in its turn 
have much to say as to the forms which honorific ex- 
penditure will take, and as to the degree to which this 
" higher " need will dominate a people's consumption. 
In this respect the control exerted by the accepted 
standard of living is chiefly of a negative character ; 
it acts almost solely to prevent recession from a scale 
of conspicuous expenditure that has once become 

A standard of living is of the nature of habit. It 
is an habitual scale and method of responding to given 
stimuli. The difficulty in the way of receding from 
an accustomed standard is the difficulty of breaking 
a habit that has once been formed. The relative facil- 
ity with which an advance in the standard is made 
means that the life process is a process of unfolding 
activity and that it will readily unfold in a new direction 
whenever and wherever the resistance to self-expression 
decreases. But when the habit of expression along such 
a given line of low resistance has once been formed, the 
discharge will seek the accustomed outlet even after 
a change has taken place in the environment whereby 
the external resistance has appreciably risen. That 
heightened facility of expression in a given direction 
which is called habit may offset a considerable increase 
in the resistance offered by external circumstances to 
the unfolding of life in the given direction. As between 
the various habits, or habitual modes and directions of 
expression, which go to make up an individual's standard 
of living, there is an appreciable difference in point 
of persistence under counteracting circumstances and 

The Pecuniary Standard of Living 107 

in point of the degree of imperativeness with which 
the discharge seeks a given direction. 

That is to say, in the language of current economic 
theory, while men are reluctant to retrench their ex- 
penditures in any direction, they are more reluctant 
to retrench in some directions than in others ; so that 
while any accustomed consumption is reluctantly given 
up, there are certain lines of consumption which are 
given up with relatively extreme reluctance. The arti- 
cles or forms of consumption to which the consumer 
clings with the greatest tenacity are commonly the 
so-called necessaries of life, or the subsistence mini- 
mum. The subsistence minimum is of course not 
a rigidly determined allowance of goods, definite and 
invariable in kind and quantity ; but for the purpose 
in hand it may be taken to comprise a certain, more 
or less definite, aggregate of consumption required for 
the maintenance of life. This minimum, it may be 
assumed, is ordinarily given up last in case of a progres- 
sive retrenchment of expenditure. That is to say, in 
a general way, the most ancient and ingrained of the 
habits which govern the individual's life those habits 
that touch his existence as an organism are the most 
persistent and imperative. Beyond these come the 
higher wants later-formed habits of the individual 
or the race in a somewhat irregular and by no means 
invariable gradation. Some of these higher wants, as 
for instance the habitual use of certain stimulants, or 
the need of salvation (in the eschatological sense), or of 
good repute, may in some cases take precedence of the 
lower or more elementary wants. In general, the 

io8 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

longer the habituation, the more unbroken the habit, 
and the more nearly it coincides with previous habitual 
forms of the life process, the more persistently will the 
given habit assert itself. The habit will be stronger 
if the particular traits of human nature which its action 
involves, or the particular aptitudes that find exercise 
in it, are traits or aptitudes that are already largely and 
profoundly concerned in the life process or that are 
intimately bound up with the life history of the par- 
ticular racial stock. 

The varying degrees of ease with which different 
habits are formed by different persons, as well as the 
varying degrees of reluctance with which different 
habits are given up, goes to say that the formation of 
specific habits is not a matter of length of habituation 
simply. Inherited aptitudes and traits of temperament 
count for quite as much as length of habituation in de- 
ciding what range of habits will come to dominate any 
individual's scheme of life. And the prevalent type of 
transmitted aptitudes, or in other words the type of 
temperament belonging to the dominant ethnic element 
in any community, will go far to decide what will be 
the scope and form of expression of the community's 
habitual life process. How greatly the transmitted 
idiosyncracies of aptitude may count in the way of a 
rapid and definitive formation of habit in individuals is 
illustrated by the extreme facility with which an all- 
dominating habit of alcoholism is sometimes formed ; 
or in the similar facility and the similarly inevitable 
formation of a habit of devout observances in the case 
of persons gifted with a special aptitude in that direc 

The Pecuniary Standard of Living 109 

tion. Much the same meaning attaches to that pecul- 
iar facility of habituation to a specific human environ- 
ment that is called romantic love. 

Men differ in respect of transmitted aptitudes, or in 
respect of the relative facility with which they unfold 
their life activity in particular directions ; and the 
habits which coincide with or proceed upon a relatively 
strong specific aptitude or a relatively great specific 
facility of expression become of great consequence to 
the man's well-being. The part played by this element 
of aptitude in determining the relative tenacity of the 
several habits which constitute the standard of living 
goes to explain the extreme reluctance with which men 
give up any habitual expenditure in the way of con- 
spicuous consumption. The aptitudes or propensities 
to which a habit of this kind is to be referred as its 
ground are those aptitudes whose exercise is comprised 
in emulation ; and the propensity for emulation for 
invidious comparison is of ancient growth and is a 
pervading trait of human nature. It is easily called 
into vigorous activity in any new form, and it asserts 
itself with great insistence under any form under which 
it has once found habitual expression. When the indi- 
vidual has once formed the habit of seeking expression 
in a given line of honorific expenditure, when a given 
set of stimuli have come to be habitually responded to 
in activity of a given kind and direction under the guid- 
ance of these alert and deep-reaching propensities of 
emulation, it is with extreme reluctance that such an 
habitual expenditure is given up. And on the other 
hand, whenever an accession of pecuniary strength puts 

no The Theory of the Leisure Class 

the individual in a position to unfold his life process in 
larger scope and with additional reach, the ancient pro- 
pensities of the race will assert themselves in determin- 
ing the direction which the new unfolding of life is to 
take. And those propensities which are already actively 
in the field under some related form of expression, which 
are aided by the pointed suggestions afforded by a cur- 
rent accredited scheme of life, and for the exercise of 
which the material means and opportunities are readily 
available, these will especially have much to say in 
shaping the form and direction in which the new acces- 
sion to the individual's aggregate force will assert itself. 
That is to say, in concrete terms, in any community 
where conspicuous consumption is an element of the 
scheme of life, an increase in an individual's ability to 
pay is likely to take the form of an expenditure for some 
accredited line of conspicuous consumption. 

With the exception of the instinct of self-preservation, 
the propensity for emulation is probably the strongest 
and most alert and persistent of the economic motives 
proper. In an industrial community this propensity for 
emulation expresses itself in pecuniary emulation ; and 
this, so far as regards the Western civilised communities 
of the present, is virtually equivalent to saying that it 
expresses itself in some form of conspicuous waste. 
The need of conspicuous waste, therefore, stands ready 
to absorb any increase in the community's industrial 
efficiency or output of goods, after the most elementary 
physical wants have been provided for. Where this 
result does not follow, under modern conditions, the 
reason for the discrepancy is commonly to be sought in 

The Pecuniary Standard of Living III 

a rate of increase in the individual's wealth too rapid 
for the habit of expenditure to keep abreast of it ; or it 
may be that the individual in question defers the con- 
spicuous consumption of the increment to a later date 
ordinarily with a view to heightening the spectacular 
effect of the aggregate expenditure contemplated. As 
increased industrial efficiency makes it possible to pro- 
cure the means of livelihood with less labour, the ener- 
gies of the industrious members of the community are 
bent to the compassing of a higher result in conspicu- 
ous expenditure, rather than slackened to a more com- 
fortable pace. The strain is not lightened as industrial 
efficiency increases and makes a lighter strain possible, 
but the increment of output is turned to use to meet 
this want, which is indefinitely expansible, after the 
manner commonly imputed in economic theory to higher 
or spiritual wants. It is owing chiefly to the presence 
of this element in the standard of living that J. S. Mill 
was able to say that " hitherto it is questionable if all 
the mechanical inventions yet made have lightened the 
day's toil of any human being." 

The accepted standard of expenditure in the com- 
munity or in the class to which a person belongs 
largely determines what his standard of living will be. 
It does this directly by commending itself to his com- 
mon sense as right and good, through his habitually 
contemplating it and assimilating the scheme of life in 
which it belongs ; but it does so also indirectly through 
popular insistence on conformity to the accepted scale 
of expenditure as a matter of propriety, under pain of 
disesteem and ostracism. To accept and practise the 

H2 Tke Theory of the Leisure Class 

standard of living which is in vogue is both agreeable 
and expedient, commonly to the point of being indis- 
pensable to personal comfort and to success in life. 
The standard of living of any class, so far as concerns 
the element of conspicuous waste, is commonly as high 
as the earning capacity of the class will permit with 
a constant tendency to go higher. The effect upon the 
serious activities of men is therefore to direct them with 
great singleness of purpose to the largest possible acqui- 
sition of wealth, and to discountenance work that brings 
no pecuniary gain. At the same time the effect on 
consumption is to concentrate it upon the lines which 
are most patent to the observers whose good opinion is 
sought ; while the inclinations and aptitudes whose exer- 
cise does not involve a honorific expenditure of time or 
substance tend to fall into abeyance through disuse. 

Through this discrimination in favour of visible con- 
sumption it has come about that the domestic life of 
most classes is relatively shabby, as compared with the 
e"clat of that overt portion of their life that is carried on 
before the eyes of observers. As a secondary conse- 
quence of the same discrimination, people habitually 
screen their private life from observation. So far as 
concerns that portion of their consumption that may 
without blame be carried on in secret, they withdraw 
from all contact with their neighbours. Hence the 
exclusiveness of people, as regards their domestic 
life, in most of the industrially developed communi- 
ties ; and hence, by remoter derivation, the habit of 
privacy and reserve that is so large a feature in the 
code of proprieties of the better classes in all commu- 

The Pecuniary Standard of Living 113 

nities. The low birthrate of the classes upon whom 
the requirements of reputable expenditure fall with 
great urgency is likewise traceable to the exigen- 
cies of a standard of living based on conspicuous waste. 
The conspicuous consumption, and the consequent in- 
creased expense, required in the reputable maintenance 
of a child is very considerable and acts as a powerful 
deterrent. It is probably the most effectual of the 
Malthusian prudential checks. 

The effect of this factor of the standard of living, both 
in the way of retrenchment in the obscurer elements of 
consumption that go to physical comfort and mainte- 
nance, and also in the paucity or absence of children, is 
perhaps seen at its best among the classes given to 
scholarly pursuits. Because of a presumed superiority 
and scarcity of the gifts and attainments that character- 
ise their life, these classes are by convention subsumed 
under a higher social grade than their pecuniary grade 
should warrant. The scale of decent expenditure in 
their case is pitched correspondingly high, and it 
consequently leaves an exceptionally narrow margin 
disposable for the other ends of life. By force of cir- 
cumstances, their own habitual sense of what is good 
and right in these matters, as well as the expectations of 
the community in the way of pecuniary decency among 
the learned, are excessively high as measured by the 
prevalent degree of opulence and earning capacity of 
the class, relatively to the non-scholarly classes whose 
social equals they nominally are. In any modern com- 
munity where there is no priestly monopoly of these 
occupations, the people of scholarly pursuits are un 

1 14 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

avoidably thrown into contact with classes that are 
pecuniarily their superiors. The high standard of pecu- 
niary decency in force among these superior classes is 
transfused among the scholarly classes with but little 
mitigation of its rigour ; and as a consequence there is 
no class of the community that spends a larger propor- 
tion of its substance in conspicuous waste than these. 


THE caution has already been repeated more than 
once, that while the regulating norm of consumption is 
in large part the requirement of conspicuous waste, it 
must not be understood that the motive on which the 
consumer acts in any given case is this principle in its 
bald, unsophisticated form. Ordinarily his motive is a 
wish to conform to established usage, to avoid unfavour- 
able notice and comment, to live up to the accepted 
canons of decency in the kind, amount, and grade of 
goods consumed, as well as in the decorous employment 
of his time and effort. In the common run of cases 
this sense of prescriptive usage is present in the motives 
of the consumer and exerts a direct constraining force, 
especially as regards consumption carried on under 
the eyes of observers. But a considerable element of 
prescriptive expensiveness is observable also in con- 
sumption that does not in any appreciable degree be- 
come known to outsiders as, for instance, articles of 
underclothing, some articles of food, kitchen utensils, 
and other household apparatus designed for service rather 
than for evidence. In all such useful articles a close 
scrutiny will discover certain features which add to the 
cost and enhance the commercial value of the goods in 

1 1 6 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

question, but do not proportionately increase the service- 
ability of these articles for the material purposes which 
alone they ostensibly are designed to serve. 

Under the selective surveillance of the law of con. 
spicuous waste there grows up a code of accredited 
canons of consumption, the effect of which is to hold 
the consumer up to a standard of expensiveness and 
wastefulness in his consumption of goods and in his em- 
ployment of time and effort. This growth of prescrip- 
tive usage has an immediate effect upon economic life, 
but it has also an indirect and remoter effect upon con- 
duct in other respects as well. Habits of thought with 
respect to the expression of life in any given direction 
unavoidably affect the habitual view of what is good and 
right in life in other directions also. In the organic 
complex of habits of thought which make up the sub- 
stance of an individual's conscious life the economic 
interest does not lie isolated and distinct from all other 
interests. Something, for instance, has already been 
said of its relation to the canons of reputability. 

The principle of conspicuous waste guides the forma- 
tion of habits of thought as to what is honest and repu- 
table in life and in commodities. In so doing, this prin- 
ciple will traverse other norms of conduct which do not 
primarily have to do with the code of pecuniary honour, 
but which have, directly or incidentally, an economic 
significance of some magnitude. So the canon of hon- 
orific waste may, immediately or remotely, influence the 
sense of duty, the sense of beauty, the sense of utility, 
the sense of devotional or ritualistic fitness, and the 
scientific sense of truth. 

Pecuniary Canons of Taste 117 

It is scarcely necessary to go into a discussion here 
of the particular points at which, or the particular man- 
ner in which, the canon of honorific expenditure habitu- 
ally traverses the canons of moral conduct. The matter 
is one which has received large attention and illustration 
at the hands of those whose office it is to watch and 
admonish with respect to any departures from the 
accepted code of morals. In modern communities, 
where the dominant economic and legal feature of the 
community's life is the institution of private property, 
one of the salient features of the code of morals is the 
sacredness of property. There needs no insistence or 
illustration to gain assent to the proposition that the 
habit of holding private property inviolate is traversed 
by the other habit of seeking wealth for the sake of the 
good repute to be gained through its conspicuous con- 
sumption. Most offences against property, especially 
offences of an appreciable magnitude, come under this 
head. It is also a matter of common notoriety and by- 
word that in offences which result in a large accession 
of property to the offender he does not ordinarily incur 
the extreme penalty or the extreme obloquy with which 
his offence would be visited on the ground of the naive 
moral code alone. The thief or swindler who has gained 
great wealth by his delinquency has a better chance 
than the small thief of escaping the rigorous penalty of 
the law ; and some good repute accrues to him from his 
increased wealth and from his spending the irregularly 
acquired possessions in a seemly manner. A well-bred 
expenditure of his booty especially appeals with great 
effect to persons of a cultivated sense of the proprieties, 

n8 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

and goes far to mitigate the sense of moral turpitude with 
which his dereliction is viewed by them. It may be 
noted also and it is more immediately to the point 
that we are all inclined to condone an offence against 
property in the case of a man whose motive is the 
worthy one of providing the means of a "decent" man- 
ner of life for his wife and children. If it is added that 
the wife has been " nurtured in the lap of luxury," that 
is accepted as an additional extenuating circumstance. 
That is to say, we are prone to condone such an offence 
where its aim is the honorific one of enabling the 
offender's wife to perform for him such an amount of 
vicarious consumption of time and substance as is de- 
manded by the standard of pecuniary decency. In such 
a case the habit of approving the accustomed degree of 
conspicuous waste traverses the habit of deprecating 
violations of ownership, to the extent even of sometimes 
leaving the award of praise or blame uncertain. This 
is peculiarly true where the dereliction involves an 
appreciable predatory or piratical element. 

This topic need scarcely be pursued farther here ; 
but the remark may not be out of place that all that 
considerable body of morals that clusters about the 
concept of an inviolable ownership is itself a psycho- 
logical precipitate of the traditional meritoriousness of 
wealth. And it should be added that this wealth which 
is held sacred is valued primarily for the sake of the 
good repute to be got through its conspicuous con- 

The bearing of pecuniary decency upon the scientific 
spirit or the quest of knowledge will be taken up in 

Pecuniary Canons of Taste 119 

some detail in a separate chapter. Also as regards the 
sense of devout or ritual merit and adequacy in this 
connection, little need be said in this place. That topic 
will also come up incidentally in a later chapter. Still, 
this usage of honorific expenditure has much to say in 
shaping popular tastes as to what is right and meritorious 
in sacred matters, and the bearing of the principle of 
conspicuous waste upon some of the commonplace 
devout observances and conceits may therefore be 
pointed out. 

Obviously, the canon of conspicuous waste is account- 
able for a great portion of what may be called devout 
consumption ; as, e.g., the consumption of sacred edifices, 
vestments, and other goods of the same class. Even in 
those modern cults to whose divinities is imputed a pre- 
dilection for temples not built with hands, the sacred 
buildings and the other properties of the cult are con- 
structed and decorated with some view to a reputable 
degree of wasteful expenditure. And it needs but little 
either of observation or introspection and either will 
serve the turn to assure us that the expensive splen- 
dour of the house of worship has an appreciable uplifting 
and mellowing effect upon the worshipper's frame of 
mind. It will serve to enforce the same fact if we re- 
flect upon the sense of abject shamefulness with which 
any evidence of indigence or squalor about the sacred 
place affects all beholders. The accessories of any 
devout observance should be pecuniarily above re- 
proach. This requirement is imperative, whatever lati- 
tude may be allowed with regard to these accessories 
in point of aesthetic or other serviceability. 

I2O The Theory of the Leisure Class 

It may also be in place to notice that in all communi- 
ties, especially in neighbourhoods where the standard of 
pecuniary decency for dwellings is not high, the local 
sanctuary is more ornate, more conspicuously wasteful in 
its architecture and decoration, than the dwelling-houses 
of the congregation. This is true of nearly all denomi- 
nations and cults, whether Christian or Pagan, but it is 
true in a peculiar degree of the older and maturer cults. 
At the same time the sanctuary commonly contributes 
little if anything to the physical comfort of the members. 
Indeed, the sacred structure not only serves the physical 
well-being of the members to but a slight extent, as com- 
pared with their humbler dwelling-houses ; but it is felt 
by all men that a right and enlightened sense of the 
true, the beautiful, and the good demands that in all 
expenditure on the sanctuary anything that might serve 
the comfort of the worshipper should be conspicuously 
absent. If any element of comfort is admitted in the 
fittings of the sanctuary, it should at least be scrupu- 
lously screened and masked under an ostensible austerity. 
In the most reputable latter-day houses of worship, where 
no expense is spared, the principle of austerity is carried 
to the length of making the fittings of the place a means 
of mortifying the flesh, especially in appearance. There 
are few persons of delicate tastes in the matter of devout 
consumption to whom this austerely wasteful discomfort 
does not appeal as intrinsically right and good. Devout 
consumption is of the nature of vicarious consumption. 
This canon of devout austerity is based on the pecuni- 
ary reputability of conspicuously wasteful consumption, 
backed by the principle that vicarious consumption 

Pecuniary Canons of Taste 12 1 

should conspicuously not conduce to the comfort of 
the vicarious consumer. 

The sanctuary and its fittings have something of this 
austerity in all the cults in which the saint or divinity 
to whom the sanctuary pertains is not conceived to be 
present and make personal use of the property for the 
gratification of luxurious tastes imputed to him. The 
character of the sacred paraphernalia is somewhat dif- 
ferent in this respect in those cults where the habits of 
life imputed to the divinity more nearly approach those 
of an earthly patriarchal potentate where he is con- 
ceived to make use of these consumable goods in per- 
son. In the latter case the sanctuary and its fittings 
take on more of the fashion given to goods destined for 
the conspicuous consumption of a temporal master or 
owner. On the other hand, where the sacred apparatus 
is simply employed in the divinity's service, that is to 
say, where it is consumed vicariously on his account by 
his servants, there the sacred properties take the char- 
acter suited to goods that are destined for vicarious con- 
sumption only. 

In the latter case the sanctuary and the sacred ap- 
paratus are so contrived as not to enhance the comfort 
or fulness of life of the vicarious consumer, or at any 
rate not to convey the impression that the end of their 
consumption is the consumer's comfort. For the end 
of vicarious consumption is to enhance, not the fulness 
of life of the consumer, but the pecuniary repute of the 
master for whose behoof the consumption takes place. 
Therefore priestly vestments are notoriously expensive, 
ornate, and inconvenient; and in the cults where the 

122 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

priestly servitor of the divinity is not conceived to 
serve him in the capacity of consort, they are of an aus- 
tere, comfortless fashion. And such it is felt that they 
should be. 

It is not only in establishing a devout standard of 
decent expensiveness that the principle of waste invades 
the domain of the canons of ritual serviceability. It 
touches the ways as well as the means, and draws on 
vicarious leisure as well as on vicarious consumption. 
Priestly demeanour at its best is aloof, leisurely, perfunc- 
tory, and uncontaminated with suggestions of sensuous 
pleasure. This holds true, in different degrees of 
course, for the different cults and denominations ; but 
in the priestly life of all anthropomorphic cults the 
marks of a vicarious consumption of time are visible. 

The same pervading canon of vicarious leisure is also 
visibly present in the exterior details of devout observ- 
ances and need only be pointed out in order to become 
obvious to all beholders. All ritual has a notable ten- 
dency to reduce itself to a rehearsal of formulas. This 
development of formula is most noticeable in the ma- 
turer cults, which have at the same time a more aus- 
tere, ornate, and severe priestly life and garb ; but it is 
perceptible also in the forms and methods of worship of 
the newer and fresher sects, whose tastes in respect of 
priests, vestments, and sanctuaries are less exacting. 
The rehearsal of the service (the term " service " carries 
a suggestion significant for the point in question) grows 
more perfunctory as the cult gains in age and consist- 
ency, and this perfunctoriness of the rehearsal is very 
pleasing to the correct devout taste. And with a good 

Pecuniary Canons of Taste 123 

reason, for the fact of its being perfunctory goes to say 
pointedly that the master for whom it is performed is 
exalted above the vulgar need of actually proficuous 
service on the part of his servants. They are unprofi- 
table servants, and there is a honorific implication for 
their master in their remaining unprofitable. It is 
needless to point out the close analogy at this point 
between the priestly office and the office of the foot- 
man. It is pleasing to our sense of what is fitting 
in these matters, in either case, to recognise in the 
obvious perfunctoriness of the service that it is a pro 
forma execution only. There should be no show of 
agility or of dexterous manipulation in the execution of 
the priestly office, such as might suggest a capacity for 
turning off the work. 

In all this there is of course an obvious implication as 
to the temperament, tastes, propensities, and habits of 
life imputed to the divinity by worshippers who live 
under the tradition of these pecuniary canons of reputa- 
bility. Through its pervading men's habits of thought, 
the principle of conspicuous waste has coloured the wor- 
shippers' notions of the divinity and of the relation in 
which the human subject stands to him. It is of course 
in the more nafve cults that this suffusion of pecuniary 
beauty is most patent, but it is visible throughout. All 
peoples, at whatever stage of culture or degree of en- 
lightenment, are fain to eke out a sensibly scant degree 
of authentic information regarding the personality and 
habitual surroundings of their divinities. In so calling 
in the aid of fancy to enrich and fill in their picture of 
the divinity's presence and manner of life they habitu- 

124 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

ally impute to him such traits as go to make up their 
ideal of a worthy man. And in seeking communion 
with the divinity the ways and means of approach are 
assimilated as nearly as may be to the divine ideal that 
is in men's minds at the time. It is felt that the divine 
presence is entered with the best grace, and with the 
best effect, according to certain accepted methods and 
with the accompaniment of certain material circum- 
stances which in popular apprehension are peculiarly 
consonant with the divine nature. This popularly 
accepted ideal of the bearing and paraphernalia ade- 
quate to such occasions of communion is, of course, 
to a good extent shaped by the popular apprehension 
of what is intrinsically worthy and beautiful in human 
carriage and surroundings on all occasions of dignified 
intercourse. It would on this account be misleading to 
attempt an analysis of devout demeanour by referring 
all evidences of the presence of a pecuniary standard of 
reputability back directly and baldly to the underlying 
norm of pecuniary emulation. So it would also be mis- 
leading to ascribe to the divinity, as popularly conceived, 
a jealous regard for his pecuniary standing and a habit 
of avoiding and condemning squalid situations and 
surroundings simply because they are under grade in 
the pecuniary respect. 

And still, after all allowance has been made, it ap- 
pears that the canons of pecuniary reputability do, 
directly or indirectly, materially affect our notions of 
the attributes of divinity, as well as our notions of what 
are the fit and adequate manner and circumstances of 
divine communion. It is felt that the divinity must be 

Pecuniary Canons of Taste 125 

of a peculiarly serene and leisurely habit of life. And 
whenever his local habitation is pictured in poetic im- 
agery, for edification or in appeal to the devout fancy, 
the devout word-painter, as a matter of course, brings 
out before his auditors' imagination a throne with a 
profusion of the insignia of opulence and power, and 
surrounded by a great number of servitors. In the 
common run of such presentations of the celestial 
abodes, the office of this corps of servants is a vicari- 
ous leisure, their time and efforts being in great meas- 
ure taken up with an industrially unproductive rehearsal 
of the meritorious characteristics and exploits of the 
divinity ; while the background of the presentation is 
filled with the shimmer of the precious metals and of 
the more expensive varieties of precious stones. It is 
only in the crasser expressions of devout fancy that this 
intrusion of pecuniary canons into the devout ideals 
reaches such an extreme. An extreme case occurs in 
the devout imagery of the negro population of the 
South. Their word-painters are unable to descend to 
anything cheaper than gold ; so that in this case the 
insistence on pecuniary beauty gives a startling effect 
in yellow, such as would be unbearable to a soberer 
taste. Still, there is probably no cult in which ideals 
of pecuniary merit have not been called in to supple- 
ment the ideals of ceremonial adequacy that guide 
men's conception of what is right in the matter of 
sacred apparatus. 

Similarly it is felt and the sentiment is acted upon 
that the priestly servitors of the divinity should not 
engage in industrially productive work; that work of 

126 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

any kind any employment which is of tangible human 
use must not be carried on in the divine presence, or 
within the precincts of the sanctuary ; that whoever 
comes into the presence should come cleansed of all 
profane industrial features in his apparel or person, 
and should come clad in garments of more than every- 
day expensiveness ; that on holidays set apart in honour 
of or for communion with the divinity no work that is 
of human use should be performed by any one. Even 
the remoter, lay dependants should render a vicarious 
leisure to the extent of one day in seven. 

In all these deliverances of men's uninstructed sense 
of what is fit and proper in devout observance and in 
the relations of the divinity, the effectual presence of 
the canons of pecuniary reputability is obvious enough, 
whether these canons have had their effect on the 
devout judgment in this respect immediately or at the 
second remove. 

These canons of reputability have had a similar, but 
more far-reaching and more specifically determinable, 
effect upon the popular sense of beauty or serviceability 
in consumable goods. The requirements of pecuniary 
decency have, to a very appreciable extent, influenced 
the sense of beauty and of utility in articles of use or 
beauty. Articles are to an extent preferred for use on 
account of their being conspicuously wasteful ; they are 
felt to be serviceable somewhat in proportion as they 
are wasteful and ill adapted to their ostensible use. 

The utility of articles valued for their beauty depends 
closely upon the expensiveness of the articles. A homely 
illustration will bring out this dependence. A hand- 

Pecuniary Canons of Taste 127 

wrought silver spoon, of a commercial value of some ten 
to twenty dollars, is not ordinarily more serviceable in 
the first sense of the word than a machine-made spoon 
of the same material. It may not even be more service- 
able than a machine-made spoon of some " base " metal, 
such as aluminum, the value of which may be no more 
than some ten to twenty cents. The former of the two 
utensils is, in fact, commonly a less effective contrivance 
for its ostensible purpose than the latter. The objection 
is of course ready to hand that, in taking this view of 
the matter, one of the chief uses, if not the chief use, 
of the costlier spoon is ignored ; the hand-wrought 
spoon gratifies our taste, our sense of the beautiful, 
while that made by machinery out of the base metal 
has no useful office beyond a brute efficiency. The 
facts are no doubt as the objection states them, but it 
will be evident on reflection that the objection is after 
all more plausible than conclusive. It appears (i) that 
while the different materials of which the two spoons are 
made each possesses beauty and serviceability for the 
purpose for which it is used, the material of the hand- 
wrought spoon is some one hundred times more valuable 
than the baser metal, without very greatly excelling the 
latter in intrinsic beauty of grain or colour, and with- 
out being in any appreciable degree superior in point of 
mechanical serviceability ; (2) if a close inspection should 
show that the supposed hand-wrought spoon were in 
reality only a very clever imitation of hand-wrought 
goods, but an imitation so cleverly wrought as to give 
the same impression of line and surface to any but a 
minute examination by a trained eye, the utility of the 

128 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

article, including the gratification which the user derives 
from its contemplation as an object of beauty, would 
immediately decline by some eighty or ninety per cent, 
or even more ; (3) if the two spoons are, to a fairly close 
observer, so nearly identical in appearance that the 
lighter weight of the spurious article alone betrays it, 
this identity of form and colour will scarcely add to the 
value of the machine-made spoon, nor appreciably en- 
hance the gratification of the user's "sense of beauty" 
in contemplating it, so long as the cheaper spoon is not 
a novelty, and so long as it can be procured at a nomi- 
nal cost. 

The case of the spoons is typical. The superior grat- 
ification derived from the use and contemplation of 
costly and supposedly beautiful products is, commonly, 
in great measure a gratification of our sense of costli- 
ness masquerading under the name of beauty. Our 
higher appreciation of the superior article is an appre- 
ciation of its superior honorific character, much more 
frequently than it is an unsophisticated appreciation of 
its beauty. The requirement of conspicuous wasteful- 
ness is not commonly present, consciously, in our 
canons of taste, but it is none the less present as a con- 
straining norm selectively shaping and sustaining our 
sense of what is beautiful, and guiding our discrimina- 
tion with respect to what may legitimately be approved 
as beautiful and what may not. 

It is at this point, where the beautiful and the honor- 
ific meet and blend, that a discrimination between ser- 
viceability and wastefulness is most difficult in any 
concrete case. It frequently happens that an article 

Pecuniary Canons of Taste 129 

which serves the honorific purpose of conspicuous waste 
is at the same time a beautiful object ; and the same 
application of labour to which it owes its utility for the 
former purpose may, and often does, go to give beauty 
of form and colour to the article. The question is fur- 
ther complicated by the fact that many objects, as, for 
instance, the precious stones and metals and some other 
materials used for adornment and decoration, owe their 
utility as items of conspicuous waste to an antecedent 
utility as objects of beauty. Gold, for instance, has a 
high degree of sensuous beauty ; very many if not most 
of the highly prized works of art are intrinsically beau- 
tiful, though often with material qualification ; the like 
is true of some stuffs used for clothing, of some land- 
scapes, and of many other things in less degree. Except 
for this intrinsic beauty which they possess, these ob- 
jects would scarcely have been coveted as they are, or 
have become monopolised objects of pride to their pos- 
sessors and users. But the utility of these things to 
the possessor is commonly due less to their intrinsic 
beauty than to the honour which their possession and 
consumption confers, or to the obloquy which it wards 

Apart from their serviceability in other respects, 
these objects are beautiful and have a utility as such ; 
they are valuable on this account if they can be appro- 
priated or monopolised ; they are, therefore, coveted as 
valuable possessions, and their exclusive enjoyment 
gratifies the possessor's sense of pecuniary superiority 
at the same time that their contemplation gratifies his 
sense of beauty. But their beauty, in the naive sense 

130 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

of the word, is the occasion rather than the ground of 
their monopolisation or of their commercial value. 
" Great as is the sensuous beauty of gems, their rarity 
and price adds an expression of distinction to them, 
which they would never have if they were cheap." 
There is, indeed, in the common run of cases under this 
head, relatively little incentive to the exclusive posses- 
sion and use of these beautiful things, except on the 
ground of their honorific character as items of conspicu- 
ous waste. Most objects of this general class, with the 
partial exception of articles of personal adornment, 
would serve all other purposes than the honorific one 
equally well, whether owned by the person viewing 
them or not ; and even as regards personal ornaments 
it is to be added that their chief purpose is to lend 
6clat to the person of their wearer (or owner) by compari- 
son with other persons who are compelled to do without. 
The aesthetic serviceability of objects of beauty is not 
greatly nor universally heightened by possession. 

The generalisation for which the discussion so far 
affords ground is that any valuable object in order to 
appeal to our sense of beauty must conform to the re- 
quirements of beauty and of expensiveness both. But 
this is not all. Beyond this the canon of expensiveness 
also affects our tastes in such a way as to inextricably 
blend the marks of expensiveness, in our appreciation, 
with the beautiful features of the object, and to sub- 
sume the resultant effect under the head of an apprecia- 
tion of beauty simply. The marks of expensiveness 
come to be accepted as beautiful features of the expen- 
sive articles. They are pleasing as being marks of 

Pecuniary Canons of Taste 131 

honorific costliness, and the pleasure which they afford 
on this score blends with that afforded by the beautiful 
form and colour of the object ; so that we often declare 
that an article of apparel, for instance, is "perfectly 
lovely," when pretty much all that an analysis of the 
aesthetic value of the article would leave ground for is 
the declaration that it is pecuniarily honorific. 

This blending and confusion of the elements of ex- 
pensiveness and of beauty is, perhaps, best exemplified 
in articles of dress and of household furniture. The 
code of reputability in matters of dress decides what 
shapes, colours, materials, and general effects in human 
apparel are for the time to be accepted as suitable ; and 
departures from the code are offensive to our taste, sup- 
posedly as being departures from aesthetic truth. The 
approval with which we look upon fashionable attire is 
by no means to be accounted pure make-believe. We 
readily, and for the most part with utter sincerity, find 
those things pleasing that are in vogue. Shaggy dress- 
stuffs and pronounced colour effects, for instance, offend 
us at times when the vogue is goods of a high, glossy 
finish and neutral colours. A fancy bonnet of this 
year's model unquestionably appeals to our sensibilities 
to-day much more forcibly than an equally fancy bonnet 
of the model of last year ; although when viewed in the 
perspective of a quarter of a century, it would, I appre- 
hend, be a matter of the utmost difficulty to award the 
palm for intrinsic beauty to the one rather than to the 
other of these structures. So, again, it may be remarked 
that, considered simply in their physical juxtaposition 
with the human form, the high gloss of a gentleman's 

132 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

hat or of a patent-leather shoe has no more of intrinsic 
beauty than a similarly high gloss on a threadbare 
sleeve ; and yet there is no question but that all well- 
bred people (in the Occidental civilised communities) 
instinctively and unaffectedly cleave to the one as a 
phenomenon of great beauty, and eschew the other as 
offensive to every sense to which it can appeal. It is 
extremely doubtful if any one could be induced to wear 
such a contrivance as the high hat of civilised society, 
except for some urgent reason based on other than 
aesthetic grounds. 

By further habituation to an appreciative perception 
of the marks of expensiveness in goods, and by habitu- 
ally identifying beauty with reputability, it comes about 
that a beautiful article which is not expensive is 
accounted not beautiful. In this way it has happened, 
for instance, that some beautiful flowers pass conven- 
tionally for offensive weeds ; others that can be culti- 
vated with relative ease are accepted and admired by 
the lower middle class, who can afford no more expen- 
sive luxuries of this kind ; but these varieties are re- 
jected as vulgar by those people who are better able to 
pay for expensive flowers and who are educated to a 
higher schedule of pecuniary beauty in the florist's 
products ; while still other flowers, of no greater intrin- 
sic beauty than these, are cultivated at great cost and 
call out much admiration from flower-lovers whose tastes 
have been matured under the critical guidance of a 
polite environment. 

The same variation in matters of taste, from one class 
of society to another, is visible also as regards many 

Pecuniary Canons of Taste 133 

other kinds of consumable goods, as, for example, is 
the case with furniture, houses, parks, and gardens. 
This diversity of views as to what is beautiful in these 
various classes of goods is not a diversity of the norm 
according to which the unsophisticated sense of the 
beautiful works. If is not a constitutional difference 
of endowments in the aesthetic respect, but rather a 
difference in the code of reputability which specifies 
what objects properly lie within the scope of honorific 
consumption for the class to which the critic belongs. 
It is a difference in the traditions of propriety with re- 
spect to the kinds of things which may, without dero 
gation to the consumer, be consumed under the head 
of objects of taste and art. With a certain allowance 
for variations to be accounted for on other grounds, 
these traditions are determined, more or less rigidly, 
by the pecuniary plane of life of the class. 

Everyday life affords many curious illustrations of the 
way in which the code of pecuniary beauty in articles 
of use varies from class to class, as well as of the way 
in which the conventional sense of beauty departs in 
its deliverances from the sense untutored by the re- 
quirements of pecuniary repute. Such a fact is the 
lawn, or the close-cropped yard or park, which appeals 
so unaffectedly to the taste of the Western peoples. 
It appears especially to appeal to the tastes of the well- 
to-do classes in those communities in which the dolicho- 
blond element predominates in an appreciable degree. 
The lawn unquestionably has an element of sensuous 
beauty, simply as an object of apperception, and as 
such no doubt it appeals pretty directly to the eye of 

134 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

nearly all races and all classes ; but it is, perhaps, more 
unquestionably beautiful to the eye of the dolicho- 
blond than to most other varieties of men. This higher 
appreciation of a stretch of greensward in this ethnic 
element than in the other elements of the population, 
goes along with certain other features of the dolicho- 
blond temperament that indicate that this racial element 
has once been for a long time a pastoral people inhabit- 
ing a region with a humid climate. The close-cropped 
lawn is beautiful in the eyes of a people whose in- 
herited bent it is to readily find pleasure in contem- 
plating a well-preserved pasture or grazing land. 

For the aesthetic purpose the lawn is a cow pasture ; 
and in some cases to-day where the expensiveness of 
the attendant circumstances bars out any imputation 
of thrift the idyl of the dolicho-blond is rehabili- 
tated in the introduction of a cow into a lawn or pri- 
vate ground. In such cases the cow made use of is 
commonly of an expensive breed. The vulgar sugges- 
tion of thrift, which is nearly inseparable from the 
cow, is a standing objection to the decorative use of 
this animal. So that in all cases, except where luxu- 
rious surroundings negative this suggestion, the use 
of the cow as an object of taste must be avoided. 
Where the predilection for some grazing animal to 
fill out the suggestion of the pasture is too strong to 
be suppressed, the cow's place is often given to some 
more or less inadequate substitute, such as deer, ante- 
lopes, or some such exotic beast. These substitutes, 
although less beautiful to the pastoral eye of Western 
man than the cow, are in such cases preferred because 

Pecuniary Canons of Taste 135 

of their superior expensiveness or futility, and their 
consequent repute. They are not vulgarly lucrative 
either in fact or in suggestion. 

Public parks of course fall in the same category with 
the lawn ; they too, at their best, are imitations of 
the pasture. Such a park is of course best kept by 
grazing, and the cattle on the grass are themselves 
no mean addition to the beauty of the thing, as need 
scarcely be insisted on with any one who has once 
seen a well-kept pasture. But it is worth noting, as 
an expression of the pecuniary element in popular 
taste, that such a method of keeping public grounds 
is seldom resorted to. The best that is done by 
skilled workmen under the supervision of a trained 
keeper is a more or less close imitation of a pasture, 
but the result invariably falls somewhat short of the 
artistic effect of grazing. But to the average popular 
apprehension a herd of cattle so pointedly suggests 
thrift and usefulness that their presence in the public 
pleasure ground would be intolerably cheap. This 
method of keeping grounds is comparatively inexpen- 
sive, therefore it is indecorous. 

Of the same general bearing is another feature of 
public grounds. There is a studious exhibition of ex- 
pensiveness coupled with a make-believe of simplicity 
and crude serviceability. Private grounds also show 
the same physiognomy wherever they are in the man- 
agement or ownership of persons whose tastes have 
been formed under middle-class habits of life or under 
the upper-class traditions of no later a date than the child- 
hood of the generation that is now passing. Grounds 

136 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

which conform to the instructed tastes of the latter-day 
upper class do not show these features in so marked a 
degree. The reason for this difference in tastes between 
the past and the incoming generation of the well-bred 
lies in the changing economic situation. A similar differ- 
ence is perceptible in other respects, as well as in the 
accepted ideals of pleasure grounds. In this country as 
in most others, until the last half century but a very 
small proportion of the population were possessed of 
such wealth as would exempt them from thrift. Owing 
to imperfect means of communication, this small frac- 
tion were scattered and out of effective touch with one 
another. There was therefore no basis for a growth of 
taste in disregard of expensiveness. The revolt of the 
well-bred taste against vulgar thrift was unchecked. 
Wherever the unsophisticated sense of beauty might 
show itself sporadically in an approval of inexpensive 
or thrifty surroundings, it would lack the " social con* 
firmation " which nothing but a considerable body of 
like-minded people can give. There was, therefore, no 
effective upper-class opinion that would overlook evi- 
dences of possible inexpensiveness in the management 
of grounds ; and there was consequently no appreciable 
divergence between the leisure-class and the lower 
middle-class ideal in the physiognomy of pleasure 
grounds. Both classes equally constructed their ideals 
with the fear of pecuniary disrepute before their eyes. 

To-day a divergence in ideals is beginning to be appar- 
ent. The portion of the leisure class that has been con- 
sistently exempt from work and from pecuniary cares 
for a generation or more is now large enough to form 

Pecuniary Canons of Taste 137 

and sustain an opinion in matters of taste. Increased 
mobility of the members has also added to the facility 
with which a " social confirmation " can be attained 
within the class. Within this select class the exemp- 
tion from thrift is a matter so commonplace as to have 
lost much of its utility as a basis of pecuniary decency. 
Therefore the latter-day upper-class canons of taste do 
not so consistently insist on an unremitting demonstra- 
tion of expensiveness and a strict exclusion of the ap- 
pearance of thrift. So, a predilection for the rustic and 
the " natural " in parks and grounds makes its appear- 
ance on these higher social and intellectual levels. This 
predilection is in large part an outcropping of the in- 
stinct of workmanship ; and it works out its results with 
varying degrees of consistency. It is seldom altogether 
unaffected, and at times it shades off into something 
not widely different from that make-believe of rusticity 
which has been referred to above. 

A weakness for crudely serviceable contrivances that 
pointedly suggest immediate and wasteless use is pres- 
ent even in the middle-class tastes ; but it is there 
kept well in hand under the unbroken dominance of 
the canon of reputable futility. Consequently it works 
out in a variety of ways and means for shamming ser- 
viceability, in such contrivances as rustic fences, 
bridges, bowers, pavilions, and the like decorative 
features. An expression of this affectation of service- 
ability, at what is perhaps its widest divergence from the 
first promptings of the sense of economic beauty, is 
afforded by the cast-iron rustic fence and trellis or by a 
circuitous drive laid across level ground. 

138 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

The select leisure class has outgrown the use of these 
pseudo-serviceable variants of pecuniary beauty, at least 
at some points. But the taste of the more recent acces- 
sions to the leisure class proper and of the middle and 
lower classes still requires a pecuniary beauty to supple- 
ment the aesthetic beauty, even in those objects which 
are primarily admired for the beauty that belongs to 
them as natural growths. 

The popular taste in these matters is to be seen in 
the prevalent high appreciation of topiary work and 
of the conventional flower-beds of public grounds. Per- 
haps as happy an illustration as may be had of this 
dominance of pecuniary beauty over aesthetic beauty 
in middle-class tastes is seen in the reconstruction of 
the grounds lately occupied by the Columbian Exposi- 
tion. The evidence goes to show that the requirement 
of reputable expensiveness is still present in good vigour 
even where all ostensibly lavish display is avoided. The 
artistic effects actually wrought in this work of recon- 
struction diverge somewhat widely from the effect to 
which the same ground would have lent itself in hands 
not guided by pecuniary canons of taste. And even 
the better class of the city's population view the prog- 
ress of the work with an unreserved approval which 
suggests that there is in this case little if any discre- 
pancy between the tastes of the upper and the lower or 
middle classes of the city. The sense of beauty in the 
population of this representative city of the advanced 
pecuniary culture is very chary of any departure from 
its great cultural principle of conspicuous waste. 

The love of nature, perhaps itself borrowed from a 

Pecuniary Canons of Taste 139 

higher-class code of taste, sometimes expresses itself 
in unexpected ways under the guidance of this canon 
of pecuniary beauty, and leads to results that may seem 
incongruous to an unreflecting beholder. The well- 
accepted practice of planting trees in the treeless areas 
of this country, for instance, has been carried over as 
an item of honorific expenditure into the heavily wooded 
areas ; so that it is by no means unusual for a village 
or a fanner in the wooded country to clear the land of 
its native trees and immediately replant saplings of 
certain introduced varieties about the farmyard or along 
the streets. In this way a forest growth of oak, elm, 
beech, butternut, hemlock, basswood, and birch is cleared 
off to give room for saplings of soft maple, cottonwood, 
and brittle willow. It is felt that the inexpensiveness 
of leaving the forest trees standing would derogate 
from the dignity that should invest an article which is 
intended to serve a decorative and honorific end. 

The like pervading guidance of taste by pecuniary 
repute is traceable in the prevalent standards of beauty 
in animals. The part played by this canon of taste in 
assigning her place in the popular aesthetic scale to the 
cow has already been spoken of. Something to the 
same effect is true of the other domestic animals, so far 
as they are in an appreciable degree industrially useful 
to the community as, for instance, barnyard fowl, 
hogs, cattle, sheep, goats, draught-horses. They are of 
the nature of productive goods, and serve a useful, often 
a lucrative end ; therefore beauty is not readily imputed 
to them. The case is different with those domestic 
animals which ordinarily serve no industrial end ; such 

140 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

as pigeons, parrots and other cage-birds, cats, dogs, and 
fast horses. These commonly are items of conspicuous 
consumption, and are therefore honorific in their nature 
and may legitimately be accounted beautiful. This 
class of animals are conventionally admired by the body 
of the upper classes, while the pecuniarily lower classes 
and that select minority of the leisure class among 
whom the rigorous canon that abjures thrift is in a 
measure obsolescent find beauty in one class of ani- 
mals as in another, without drawing a hard and fast line 
of pecuniary demarcation between the beautiful and the 

In the case of those domestic animals which are 
honorific and are reputed beautiful, there is a subsidiary 
basis of merit that should be spoken of. Apart from 
the birds which belong in the honorific class of domestic 
animals, and which owe their place in this class to their 
non-lucrative character alone, the animals which merit 
particular attention are cats, dogs, and fast horses. 
The cat is less reputable than the other two just named, 
because she is less wasteful ; she may even serve a 
useful end. At the same time the cat's temperament 
does not fit her for the honorific purpose. She lives 
with man on terms of equality, knows nothing of that 
relation of status which is the ancient basis of all dis- 
tinctions of worth, honour, and repute, and she does not 
lend herself with facility to an invidious comparison 
between her owner and his neighbours. The exception 
to this last rule occurs in the case of such scarce and 
fanciful products as the Angora cat, which have some 
slight honorific value on the ground of expensiveness, 

Pecuniary Canons of Taste 141 

and have, therefore, some special claim to beauty on 
pecuniary grounds. 

The dog has advantages in the way of uselessness as 
well as in special gifts of temperament. He is often 
spoken of, in an eminent sense, as the friend of man, 
and his intelligence and fidelity are praised. The 
meaning of this is that the dog is man's servant and 
that he has the gift of an unquestioning subservience 
and a slave's quickness in guessing his master's mood. 
Coupled with these traits, which fit him well for the 
relation of status and which must for the present 
purpose be set down as serviceable traits the dog 
has some characteristics which are of a more equivocal 
aesthetic value. He is the filthiest of the domestic 
animals in his person and the nastiest in his habits. 
For this he makes up in a servile, fawning attitude 
towards his master, and a readiness to inflict damage 
and discomfort on all else. The dog, then, commends 
himself to our favour by affording play to our propensity 
for mastery, and as he is also an item of expense, and 
commonly serves no industrial purpose, he holds a well- 
assured place in men's regard as a thing of good repute. 
The dog is at the same time associated in our imagina- 
tion with the chase a meritorious employment and an 
expression of the honourable predatory impulse. 

Standing on this vantage ground, whatever beauty of 
form and motion and whatever commendable mental 
traits he may possess are conventionally acknowledged 
and magnified. And even those varieties of the dog 
which have been bred into grotesque deformity by the 
dog-fancier are in good faith accounted beautiful by 

142 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

many. These varieties of dogs and the like is true 
of other fancy-bred animals are rated and graded in 
aesthetic value somewhat in proportion to the degree of 
grotesqueness and instability of the particular fashion 
which the deformity takes in the given case. For the 
purpose in hand, this differential utility on the ground 
of grotesqueness and instability of structure is reducible 
to terms of a greater scarcity and consequent expense. 
The commercial value of canine monstrosities, such as 
the prevailing styles of pet dogs both for men's and 
women's use, rests on their high cost of production, and 
their value to their owners lies chiefly in their utility as 
items of conspicuous consumption. Indirectly, through 
reflection upon their honorific expensiveness, a social 
worth is imputed to them ; and so, by an easy substitu- 
tion of words and ideas, they come to be admired and re- 
puted beautiful. Since any attention bestowed upon 
these animals is in no sense gainful or useful, it is also 
reputable ; and since the habit of giving them attention 
is consequently not deprecated, it may grow into an 
habitual attachment of great tenacity and of a most 
benevolent character. So that in the affection be- 
stowed on pet animals the canon of expensiveness is 
present more or less remotely as a norm which guides 
and shapes the sentiment and the selection of its object. 
The like is true, as will be noticed presently, with 
respect to affection for persons also ; although the 
manner in which the norm acts in that case is some- 
what different. 

The case of the fast horse is much like that of the 
dog. He is on the whole expensive, or wasteful and 

Pecuniary Canons of Taste 143 

useless for the industrial purpose. What productive 
use he may possess, in the way of enhancing the well- 
being of the community or making the way of life 
easier for men, takes the form of exhibitions of force 
and facility of motion that gratify the popular aesthetic 
sense. This is of course a substantial serviceability. 
The horse is not endowed with the spiritual aptitude for 
servile dependence in the same measure as the dog; but 
he ministers effectually to his master's impulse to con- 
vert the "animate " forces of the environment to his own 
use and discretion and so express his own dominating 
individuality through them. The fast horse is at least 
potentially a race-horse, of high or low degree ; and it 
is as such that he is peculiarly serviceable to his owner. 
The utility of the fast horse lies largely in his efficiency 
as a means of emulation ; it gratifies the owner's sense 
of aggression and dominance to have his own horse 
outstrip his neighbour's. This use being not lucrative, 
but on the whole pretty consistently wasteful, and 
quite conspicuously so, it is honorific, and therefore 
gives the fast horse a strong presumptive position of 
reputability. Beyond this, the race horse proper has 
also a similarly non-industrial but honorific use as a 
gambling instrument. 

The fast horse, then, is aesthetically fortunate, in 
that the canon of pecuniary good repute legitimates a 
free appreciation of whatever beauty or serviceability 
he may possess. His pretensions have the counte- 
nance of the principle of conspicuous waste and the 
backing of the predatory aptitude for dominance and 
emulation. The horse is, moreover, a beautiful animal, 

144 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

although v the race-horse is so in no peculiar degree 
to the uninstructed taste of those persons who belong 
neither in the class of race-horse fanciers nor in the 
class whose sense of beauty is held in abeyance by 
the moral constraint of the horse fancier's award. To 
this untutored taste the most beautiful horse seems 
to be a form which has suffered less radical alteration 
than the race-horse under the breeder's selective de- 
velopment of the animal. Still, when a writer or 
speaker especially of those whose eloquence is most 
consistently commonplace wants an illustration of 
animal grace and serviceability, for rhetorical use, he 
habitually turns to the horse ; and he commonly 
makes it plain before he is done that what he has 
in mind is the race-horse. 

It should be noted that in the graduated apprecia- 
tion of varieties of horses and of dogs, such as one 
meets with among people of even moderately culti- 
vated tastes in these matters, there is also discernible 
another and more direct line of influence of the leisure- 
class canons of reputability. In this country, for in- 
stance, leisure-class tastes are to some extent shaped 
on usages and habits which prevail, or which are ap- 
prehended to prevail, among the leisure class of Great 
Britain. In dogs this is true to a less extent than in 
horses. In horses, more particularly in saddle horses, 
which at their best serve the purpose of wasteful 
display simply, it will hold true in a general way 
that a horse is more beautiful in proportion as he 
is more English ; the English leisure class being, for 
purposes of reputable usage, the upper leisure class 

Pecuniary Canons of Taste 145 

of this country, and so the exemplar for the lower 
grades. This mimicry in the methods of the apper- 
ception of beauty and in the forming of judgments 
of taste need not result in a spurious, or at any rate 
not a hypocritical or affected, predilection. The pre- 
dilection is as serious and as substantial an award of 
taste when it rests on this basis as when it rests on 
any other; the difference is that this taste is a taste 
for the reputably correct, not for the aesthetically true. 

The mimicry, it should be said, extends further than 
to the sense of beauty in horseflesh simply. It in- 
cludes trappings and horsemanship as well, so that 
the correct or reputably beautiful seat or posture is 
also decided by English usage, as well as the eques- 
trian gait. To show how fortuitous may sometimes 
be the circumstances which decide what shall be be- 
coming and what not under the pecuniary canon of 
beauty, it may be noted that this English seat, and 
the peculiarly distressing gait which has made an 
awkward seat necessary, are a survival from the time 
when the English roads were so bad with mire and 
mud as to be virtually impassable for a horse travel- 
ling at a more comfortable gait ; so that a person of 
decorous tastes in horsemanship to-day rides a punch 
with docked tail, in an uncomfortable posture and at 
a distressing gait, because the English roads during 
a great part of the last century were impassable for a 
horse travelling at a more horse-like gait, or for an 
animal built for moving with ease over the firm and 
open country to which the horse is indigenous. 

It is not only with respect to consumable goods 

146 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

including domestic animals that the canons of taste 
have been coloured by the canons of pecuniary reputa- 
bility. Something to the like effect is to be said for 
beauty in persons. In order to avoid whatever may 
be matter of controversy, no weight will be given in 
this connection to such popular predilection as there 
may be for the dignified (leisurely) bearing and portly 
presence that are by vulgar tradition associated with 
opulence in mature men. These traits are in some 
measure accepted as elements of persbnal beauty. 
But there are certain elements of feminine beauty, 
on the other hand, which come in under this head, 
and which are of so concrete and specific a character 
as to admit of itemised appreciation. It is more or 
less a rule that in communities which are at the stage 
of economic development at which women are valued 
by the upper class for their service, the ideal of fe- 
male beauty is a robust, large-limbed woman. The 
ground of appreciation is the physique, while the con- 
formation of the face is of secondary weight only. A 
well-known instance of this ideal of the early preda- 
tory culture is that of the maidens of the Homeric 

This ideal suffers a change in the succeeding develop- 
ment, when, in the conventional scheme, the office of 
the high-class wife comes to be a vicarious leisure 
simply. The ideal then includes the characteristics 
which are supposed to result from or to go with a life 
of leisure consistently enforced. The ideal accepted 
under these circumstances may be gathered from de- 
scriptions of beautiful women by poets and writers of 

Pecuniary Canons of Taste 147 

the chivalric times. In the conventional scheme of 
those days ladies of high degree were conceived to be 
in perpetual tutelage, and to be scrupulously exempt 
from all useful work. The resulting chivalric or roman- 
tic ideal of beauty takes cognizance chiefly of the face, 
and dwells on its delicacy, and on the delicacy of the 
hands and feet, the slender figure, and especially the 
slender waist. In the pictured representations of 
the women of that time, and in modern romantic imi- 
tators of the chivalric thought and feeling, the waist is 
attenuated to a degree that implies extreme debility. 
The same ideal is still extant among a considerable por- 
tion of the population of modern industrial communi- 
ties ; but it is to be said that it has retained its hold 
most tenaciously in those modern communities which 
are least advanced in point of economic and civil devel- 
opment, and which show the most considerable sur- 
vivals of status and of predatory institutions. That is 
to say, the chivalric ideal is best preserved in those 
existing communities which are substantially least mod- 
ern. Survivals of this lackadaisical or romantic ideal 
occur freely in the tastes of the well-to-do classes of 
Continental countries. 

In modern communities which have reached the higher 
levels of industrial development, the upper leisure class 
has accumulated so great a mass of wealth as to place 
its women above all imputation of vulgarly productive 
labour. Here the status of women as vicarious con- 
sumers is beginning to lose its place in the affections 
of the body of the people ; and as a consequence the 
ideal of feminine beauty is beginning to change back 

148 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

again from the infirmly delicate, translucent, and haz- 
ardously slender, to a woman of the archaic type that 
does not disown her hands and feet, nor, indeed, the 
other gross material facts of her person. In the course 
of economic development the ideal of beauty among the 
peoples of the Western culture has shifted from the 
woman of physical presence to the lady, and it is be- 
ginning to shift back again to the woman ; and all in 
obedience to the changing conditions of pecuniary emu- 
lation. The exigencies of emulation at one time required 
lusty slaves ; at another time they required a conspicu- 
ous performance of vicarious leisure and consequently 
an obvious disability ; but the situation is now begin- 
ning to outgrow this last requirement, since, under the 
higher efficiency of modern industry, leisure in women 
is possible so far down the scale of reputability that it 
will no longer serve as a definitive mark of the highest 
pecuniary grade. 

Apart from this general control exercised by the norm 
of conspicuous waste over the ideal of feminine beauty, 
there are one or two details which merit specific mention 
as showing how it may exercise an extreme constraint 
in detail over men's sense of beauty in women. It has 
already been noticed that at the stages of economic 
evolution at which conspicuous leisure is much regarded 
as a means of good repute, the ideal requires delicate 
and diminutive hands and feet and a slender waist. 
These features, together with the other, related faults 
of structure that commonly go with them, go to show 
that the person so affected is incapable of useful effort 
and must therefore be supported in idleness by her 

Pecuniary Canons of Taste 149 

owner. She is useless and expensive, and she is con- 
sequently valuable as evidence of pecuniary strength. 
It results that at this cultural stage women take thought 
to alter their persons, so as to conform more nearly to 
the requirements of the instructed taste of the time; 
and under the guidance of the canon of pecuniary 
decency, the men find the resulting artificially induced 
pathological features attractive. So, for instance, the 
constricted waist which has had so wide and persistent 
a vogue in the communities of the Western culture, and 
so also the deformed foot of the Chinese. Both of these 
are mutilations of unquestioned repulsiveness to the 
untrained sense. It requires habituation to become 
reconciled to them. Yet there is no room to question 
their attractiveness to men into whose scheme of life 
they fit as honorific items sanctioned by the require- 
ments of pecuniary reputability. They are items of 
pecuniary and cultural beauty which have come to do 
duty as elements of the ideal of womanliness. 

The connection here indicated between the aesthetic 
value and the invidious pecuniary value of things is of 
course not present in the consciousness of the valuer. 
So far as a person, in forming a judgment of taste, 
takes thought and reflects that the object of beauty 
under consideration is wasteful and reputable, and there- 
fore may legitimately be accounted beautiful ; so far the 
judgment is not a bonafide judgment of taste and does 
not come up for consideration in this connection. The 
connection which is here insisted on between the repu- 
tability and the apprehended beauty of objects lies 
through the effect which the fact of reputability has 

150 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

upon the valuer's habits of thought. He is in the habit 
of forming judgments of value of various kinds eco- 
nomic, moral, aesthetic, or reputable concerning the 
objects with which he has to do, and his attitude of com- 
mendation towards a given object on any other ground 
will affect the degree of his appreciation of the object 
when he comes to value it for the aesthetic purpose. 
This is more particularly true as regards valuation on 
grounds so closely related to the aesthetic ground as 
that of reputability. The valuation for the aesthetic 
purpose and for the purpose of repute are not held apart 
as distinctly as might be. Confusion is especially apt 
to arise between these two kinds of valuation, because 
the value of objects for repute is not habitually distin- 
guished in speech by the use of a special descriptive 
term. The result is that the terms in familiar use to 
designate categories or elements of beauty are applied 
to cover this unnamed element of pecuniary merit, and 
the corresponding confusion of ideas follows by easy 
consequence. The demands of reputability in this way 
coalesce in the popular apprehension with the demands 
of the sense of beauty, and beauty which is not accom- 
panied by the accredited marks of good repute is not 
accepted. But the requirements of pecuniary reputa- 
bility and those of beauty in the naive sense do not in 
any appreciable degree coincide. The elimination from 
our surroundings of the pecuniarily unfit, therefore, 
results in a more or less thorough elimination of that 
considerable range of elements of beauty which do not 
happen to conform to the pecuniary requirement. 

The underlying norms of taste are of very ancient 

Pecuniary Canons of Taste 151 

growth, probably far antedating the advent of the 
pecuniary institutions that are here under discussion. 
Consequently, by force of the past selective adaptation 
of men's habits of thought, it happens that the require- 
ments of beauty, simply, are for the most part best 
satisfied by inexpensive contrivances and structures 
which in a straightforward manner suggest both the 
office which they are to perform and the method of 
serving their end. 

It may be in place to recall the modern psychological 
position. Beauty of form seems to be a question of 
facility of apperception. The proposition could per- 
haps safely be made broader than this. If abstraction 
is made from association, suggestion, and "expression," 
classed as elements of beauty, then beauty in any per- 
ceived object means that the mind readily unfolds its 
apperceptive activity in the directions which the object 
in question affords. But the directions in which activ- 
ity readily unfolds or expresses itself are the directions 
to which long and close habituation has made the mind 
prone. So far as concerns the essential elements of 
beauty, this habituation is an habituation so close and 
long as to have induced not only a proclivity to the 
apperceptive form in question, but an adaptation of 
physiological structure and function as well. So far as 
the economic interest enters into the constitution of 
beauty, it enters as a suggestion or expression of ade- 
quacy to a purpose, a manifest and readily inferable 
subservience to the life process. This expression of 
economic facility or economic serviceability in any 
object what may be called the economic beauty of 

152 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

the object is best served by neat and unambiguous 
suggestion of its office and its efficiency for the material 
ends of life. 

On this ground, among objects of use the simple and 
unadorned article is aesthetically the best. But since 
the pecuniary canon of reputability rejects the inex- 
pensive in articles appropriated to individual consump- 
tion, the satisfaction of our craving for beautiful things 
must be sought by way of compromise. The canons of 
beauty must be circumvented by some contrivance 
which will give evidence of a reputably wasteful expen- 
diture, at the same time that it meets the demands of 
our critical sense of the useful and the beautiful, or at 
least meets the demand of some habit which has come 
to do duty in place of that sense. Such an auxiliary 
sense of taste is the sense of novelty ; and this latter is 
helped out in its surrogateship by the curiosity with 
which men view ingenious and puzzling contrivances. 
Hence it comes that most objects alleged to be beautiful, 
and doing duty as such, show considerable ingenuity of 
design and are calculated to puzzle the beholder to 
bewilder him with irrelevant suggestions and hints 
of the improbable at the same time that they give 
evidence of an expenditure of labour in excess of what 
would give them their fullest efficiency for their osten- 
sible economic end. 

This may be shown by an illustration taken from out- 
side the range of our everyday habits and everyday con- 
tact, and so outside the range of our bias. Such are the 
remarkable feather mantles of Hawaii, or the well-known 
carved handles of the ceremonial adzes of several Poly- 

Pecuniary Canons of Taste 153 

nesian islands. These are undeniably beautiful, both 
in the sense that they offer a pleasing composition of 
form, lines, and colour, and in the sense that they evince 
great skill and ingenuity in design and construction. 
At the same time the articles are manifestly ill fitted to 
serve any other economic purpose. But it is not always 
that the evolution of ingenious and puzzling contrivances 
under the guidance of the canon of wasted effort works 
out so happy a result. The result is quite as often a vir- 
tually complete suppression of all elements that would 
bear scrutiny as expressions of beauty, or of service- 
ability, and the substitution of evidences of misspent 
ingenuity and labour, backed by a conspicuous inepti- 
tude ; until many of the objects with which we surround 
ourselves in everyday life, and even many articles of 
everyday dress and ornament, are such as would not be 
tolerated except under the stress of prescriptive tradi- 
tion. Illustrations of this substitution of ingenuity and 
expense in place of beauty and serviceability are to be 
seen, for instance, in domestic architecture, in domestic 
art or fancy work, in various articles of apparel, espe- 
cially of feminine and priestly apparel. 

The canon of beauty requires expression of the ge- 
neric. The " novelty " due to the demands of conspicu- 
ous waste traverses this canon of beauty, in that it 
results in making the physiognomy of our objects of 
taste a congeries of idiosyncracies ; and the idiosyn- 
crasies are, moreover, under the selective surveillance 
of the canon of expensiveness. 

This process of selective adaptation of designs to the 
end of conspicuous waste, and the substitution of pecun- 

154 The Theory of^the Leisure Class 

iary beauty for aesthetic beauty, has been especially 
effective in the development of architecture. It would 
be extremely difficult to find a modern civilised residence 
or public building which can claim anything better than 
relative inoffensiveness in the eyes of any one who will 
dissociate the elements of beauty from those of hon- 
orific waste. The endless variety of fronts presented 
by the better class of tenements and apartment houses 
in our cities is an endless variety of architectural dis- 
tress and of suggestions of expensive discomfort. Con- 
sidered as objects of beauty, the dead walls of the sides 
and back of these structures, left untouched by the 
hands of the artist, are commonly the best feature of 
the building. 

What has been said of the influence of the law of 
conspicuous waste upon the canons of taste will hold 
true, with but a slight change of terms, of its influence 
upon our notions of the serviceability of goods for other 
ends than the aesthetic one. Goods are produced and 
consumed as a means to the fuller unfolding of human 
life ; and their utility consists, in the first instance, in 
their efficiency as means to this end. The end is, in the 
first instance, the fulness of life of the individual, taken in 
absolute terms. But the human proclivity to emulation 
has seized upon the consumption of goods as a means 
to an invidious comparison, and has thereby invested 
consumable goods with a secondary utility as evidence of 
relative ability to pay. This indirect or secondary use 
of consumable goods lends a honorific character to 
consumption, and presently also to the goods which best 
serve this emulative end of consumption. The con- 

Pecuniary Canons of Taste 155 

sumption of expensive goods is meritorious, and the 
goods which contain an appreciable element of cost in 
excess of what goes to give them serviceability for their 
ostensible mechanical purpose are honorific. The marks 
of superfluous costliness in the goods are therefore 
marks of worth of high efficiency for the indirect, in- 
vidious end to be served by their consumption ; and 
conversely, goods are humilific, and therefore unattrac- 
tive, if they show too thrifty an adaptation to the me- 
chanical end sought and do not include a margin of 
expensiveness on which to rest a complacent invidious 
comparison. This indirect utility gives much of their 
value to the "better" grades of goods. In order to 
appeal to the cultivated sense of utility, an article must 
contain a modicum of this indirect utility. 

While men may have set out with disapproving an in- 
expensive manner of living because it indicated inability 
to spend much, and so indicated a lack of pecuniary 
success, they end by falling into the habit of disapprov- 
ing cheap things as being intrinsically dishonourable or 
unworthy because they are cheap. As time has gone 
on, each succeeding generation has received this tra- 
dition of meritorious expenditure -from the generation 
before it, and has in its turn further elaborated and 
fortified the traditional canon of pecuniary reputability 
in goods consumed ; until we have finally reached such 
a degree of conviction as to the unworthiness of all in- 
expensive thing's, that we have no longer any misgivings 
in formulating the maxim, " Cheap and nasty." So 
thoroughly has this habit of approving the expensive 
and disapproving the inexpensive been ingrained into 

156 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

our thinking that we instinctively insist upon at least 
some measure of wasteful expensiveness in all our con- 
sumption, even in the case of goods which are consumed 
in strict privacy and without the slightest thought of 
display. We all feel, sincerely and without misgiving, 
that we are the more lifted up in spirit for having, even 
in the privacy of our own household, eaten our daily 
meal by the help of hand-wrought silver utensils, from 
hand-painted china (often of dubious artistic value) laid 
on high-priced table linen. Any retrogression from the 
standard of living which we are accustomed to regard as 
worthy in this respect is felt to be a grievous violation 
of our human dignity. So, also, for the last dozen years 
candles have been a more pleasing source of light at 
dinner than any other. Candle-light is now softer, less 
distressing to well-bred eyes, than oil, gas, or electric 
light. The same could not have been said thirty years 
ago, when candles were, or recently had been, the 
cheapest available light for domestic use. Nor are 
candles even now found to give an acceptable or effec- 
tive light for any other than a ceremonial illumination. 

A political sage still living has summed up the con- 
clusion of this whole matter in the dictum : " A cheap 
coat makes a cheap man," and there is probably no one 
who does not feel the convincing force of the maxim. 

The habit of looking for the marks of superfluous ex- 
pensiveness in goods, and of requiring that all goods 
should afford some utility of the indirect or invidious 
sort, leads to a change in the standards by which the 
utility of goods is gauged. The honorific element and 
the element of brute efficiency are not held apart in the 

Pecuniary Canons of Taste 157 

consumer's appreciation of commodities, and the two to- 
gether go to make up the unanalysed aggregate servicea- 
bility o r the goods. Under the resulting standard of 
serviceability, no article will pass muster on the 
strength of material sufficiency alone. In order to com- 
pleteness and full acceptability to the consumer it 
must also show the honorific element. It results that 
the producers of articles of consumption direct their 
efforts to the production of goods that shall meet this 
demand for the honorific element. They will do this 
with all the more alacrity and effect, since they are 
themselves under the dominance of the same standard 
of worth in goods, and would be sincerely grieved at the 
sight of goods which lack the proper honorific finish. 
Hence it has come about that there are to-day no goods 
supplied in any trade which do not contain the honorific 
element in greater or less degree. Any consumer who 
might, Diogenes-like, insist on the elimination of all 
honorific or wasteful elements from his consumption, 
would be unable to supply his most trivial wants in the 
modern market. Indeed, even if he resorted to supply- 
ing his wants directly by his own efforts, he would find 
it difficult if not impossible to divest himself of the cur- 
rent habits of thought on this head ; so that he could 
scarcely compass a supply of the necessaries of life for 
a day's consumption without instinctively and by over- 
sight incorporating in his home-made product something 
of this honorific, quasi-decorative element of wasted 

It is notorious that in their selection of serviceable 
goods in the retail market, purchasers are guided more 

158 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

by the finish and workmanship of the goods than by 
any marks of substantial serviceability. Goods, in 
order to sell, must have some appreciable amount of 
labour spent in giving them the marks of decent expen- 
siveness, in addition to what goes to give them effi- 
ciency for the material use which they are to serve. 
This habit of making obvious costliness a canon of ser- 
viceability of course acts to enhance the aggregate cost 
of articles of consumption. It puts us on our guard 
against cheapness by identifying merit in some degree 
with cost. There is ordinarily a consistent effort on the 
part of the consumer to obtain goods of the required ser- 
viceability at as advantageous a bargain as may be ; but 
the conventional requirement of obvious costliness, as a 
voucher and a constituent of the serviceability of the 
goods, leads him to reject as under grade such goods as 
do not contain a large element of conspicuous waste. 

It is to be added that a large share of those features 
of consumable goods which figure in popular apprehen- 
sion as marks of serviceability, and to which reference 
is here had as elements of conspicuous waste, commend 
themselves to the consumer also on other grounds than 
that of expensiveness alone. They usually give evi- 
dence of skill and effective workmanship, even if they 
do not contribute to the substantial serviceability of the 
goods ; and it is no doubt largely on some such ground 
that any particular mark of honorific serviceability first 
comes into vogue and afterward maintains its footing as 
a normal constituent element of the worth of an article. 
A display of efficient workmanship is pleasing simply as 
such, even where its remoter, for the time unconsidered 

Pecuniary Canons of Taste 159 

outcome is futile. There is a gratification of the artistic 
sense in the contemplation of skilful work. But it is 
also to be added that no such evidence of skilful work- 
manship, or of ingenious and effective adaptation of 
means to end, will, in the long run, enjoy the approba- 
tion of the modern civilised consumer unless it has the 
sanction of the canon of conspicuous waste. 

The position here taken is enforced in a felicitous 
manner by the place assigned in the economy of con- 
sumption to machine products. The point of material 
difference between machine-made goods and the hand- 
wrought goods which serve the same purposes is, ordi- 
narily, that the former serve their primary purpose more 
adequately. They are a more perfect product show 
a more perfect adaptation of means to end. This does 
not save them from disesteem and depreciation, for they 
fall short under the test of honorific waste. Hand labour 
is a more wasteful method of production ; hence the 
goods turned out by this method are more serviceable 
for the purpose of pecuniary reputability ; hence the 
marks of hand labour come to be honorific, and the goods 
which exhibit these marks take rank as of higher grade 
than the corresponding machine product. Commonly, 
if not invariably, the honorific marks of hand labour are 
certain imperfections and irregularities in the lines of 
the hand-wrought article, showing where the workman 
has fallen short in the execution of the design. The 
ground of the superiority of hand-wrought goods, there- 
fore, is a certain margin of crudeness. This margin 
must never be so wide as to show bungling workmanship, 
since that would be evidence of low cost, nor so narrow 

160 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

as to suggest the ideal precision attained only by the 
machine, for that would be evidence of low cost. 

The appreciation of those evidences of honorific crude- 
ness to which hand-wrought goods owe their superior 
worth and charm in the eyes of well-bred people is 
a matter of nice discrimination. It requires training 
and the formation of right habits of thought with re- 
spect to what may be called the physiognomy of goods. 
Machine-made goods of daily use are often admired and 
preferred precisely on account of their excessive per- 
fection by the vulgar and the underbred who have not 
given due thought to the punctilios of elegant consump- 
tion. The ceremonial inferiority of machine products 
goes to show that the perfection of skill and workman- 
ship embodied in any costly innovations in the finish 
of goods is not sufficient of itself to secure them accept- 
ance and permanent favour. The innovation must have 
the support of the canon of conspicuous waste. Any 
feature in the physiognomy of goods, however pleasing 
in itself, and however well it may approve itself to the 
taste for effective work, will not be tolerated if it proves 
obnoxious to this norm of pecuniary reputability. 

The ceremonial inferiority or uncleanness in consum- 
able goods due to " commonness," or in other words to 
their slight cost of production, has been taken very 
seriously by many persons. The objection to machine 
products is often formulated as an objection to the 
commonness of such goods. What is common is within 
the (pecuniary) reach of many people. Its consump- 
tion is therefore not honorific, since it does not serve 
the purpose of a favourable invidious comparison with 

Pecuniary Canons of Taste 161 

other consumers. Hence the consumption, or even the 
sight of such goods, is inseparable from an odious sug- 
gestion of the lower levels of human life, and one comes 
away from their contemplation with a pervading sense 
of meanness that is extremely distasteful and depressing 
to a person of sensibility. In persons whose tastes 
assert themselves imperiously, and who have not the 
gift, habit, or incentive to discriminate between the 
grounds of their various judgments of taste, the deliv- 
erances of the sense of the honorific coalesce with those 
of the sense of beauty and of the sense of serviceability 
in the manner already spoken of; the resulting com- 
posite valuation serves as a judgment of the object's 
beauty or its serviceability, according as the valuer's 
bias or interest inclines him to apprehend the object in 
the one or the other of these aspects. It follows not 
infrequently that the marks of cheapness or common- 
ness are accepted as definitive marks of artistic unfitness, 
and a code or schedule of aesthetic proprieties on the 
one hand, and of aesthetic abominations on the other, is 
constructed on this basis for guidance in questions of 

As has already been pointed out, the cheap, and 
therefore indecorous, articles of daily consumption in 
modern industrial communities are commonly machine 
products; and the generic feature of the physiognomy 
of machine-made goods as compared with the hand- 
wrought article is their greater perfection in workman- 
ship and greater accuracy in the detail execution of the 
design. Hence it comes about that the visible imper- 
fections of the hand-wrought goods, being honorific, are 

1 62 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

accounted marks of superiority in point of beauty, or 
serviceability, or both. Hence has arisen that exaltation 
of the defective, of which John Ruskin and William 
Morris were such eager spokesmen in their time; and 
on this ground their propaganda of crudity and wasted 
effort has been taken up and carried forward since their 
time. And hence also the propaganda for a return to 
handicraft and household industry. So much of the 
work and speculations of this group of men as fairly 
comes under the characterisation here given would have 
been impossible at a time when the visibly more perfect 
goods were not the cheaper. 

It is of course only as to the economic value of this 
school of aesthetic teaching that anything is intended 
to be said or can be said here. What is said is not to 
be taken in the sense of depreciation, but chiefly as a 
characterisation of the tendency of this teaching in its 
effect on consumption and on the production of con- 
sumable goods. 

The manner in which the bias of this growth of taste 
has worked itself out in production is perhaps most 
cogently exemplified in the book manufacture with 
which Morris busied himself during the later years of 
his life ; but what holds true of the work of the Kelm- 
scott Press in an eminent degree, holds true with but 
slightly abated force when applied to latter-day artistic 
book-making generally, as to type, paper, illustration, 
binding materials, and binder's work. The claims to 
excellence put forward by the later products of the 
book-maker's industry rest in some measure on the 
degree of its approximation to the crudities of the time 

Pecuniary Canons of Taste 163 

when the work of book-making was a doubtful struggle 
with refractory materials carried on by means of insuf- 
ficient appliances. These products, since they require 
hand labour, are more expensive ; they are also less con- 
venient for use than the books turned out with a view 
to serviceability alone ; they therefore argue ability on 
the part of the purchaser to consume freely, as well as 
ability to waste time and effort. It is on this basis that 
the printers of to-day are returning to "old-style," and 
other more or less obsolete styles of type which are less 
legible and give a cruder appearance to the page than 
the "modern." Even a scientific periodical, with osten- 
sibly no purpose but the most effective presentation of 
matter with which its science is concerned, will concede 
so much to the demands of this pecuniary beauty as to 
publish its scientific discussions in old-style type, on 
laid paper, and with uncut edges. But books which are 
not ostensibly concerned with the effective presentation 
of their contents alone, of course go farther in this direc- 
tion. Here we have a somewhat cruder type, printed 
on hand-laid, deckel-edged paper, with excessive mar- 
gins and uncut leaves, with bindings of a painstaking 
crudeness and elaborate ineptitude. The Kelmscott 
Press reduced the matter to an absurdity as seen 
from the point of view of brute serviceability alone by 
issuing books for modern use, edited with the obsolete 
spelling, printed in black-letter, and bound in limp 
vellum fitted with thongs. As a further characteristic 
feature which fixes the economic place of artistic book- 
making, there is the fact that these more elegant books 
are, at their best, printed in limited editions. A limited 

164 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

edition is in effect a guarantee somewhat crude, it is 
true that this book is scarce and that it therefore is 
costly and lends pecuniary distinction to its consumer. 

The special attractiveness of these book-products to 
the book-buyer of cultivated taste lies, of course, not 
in a conscious, naive recognition of their costliness and 
superior clumsiness. Here, as in the parallel case of 
the superiority of hand-wrought articles over machine 
products, the conscious ground of preference is an 
intrinsic excellence imputed to the costlier and more 
awkward article. The superior excellence imputed to 
the book which imitates the products of antique and 
obsolete processes is conceived to be chiefly a superior 
utility in the aesthetic respect ; but it is not unusual 
to find a well-bred book-lover insisting that the clumsier 
product is also more serviceable as a vehicle of printed 
speech. So far as regards the superior aesthetic value 
of the decadent book, the chances are that the book- 
lover's contention has some ground. The book is 
designed with an eye single to its beauty, and the 
result is commonly some measure of success on the 
part of the designer. What is insisted on here, how- 
ever, is that the canon of taste under which the de- 
signer works is a canon formed under the surveillance 
of the law of conspicuous waste, and that this law acts 
selectively to eliminate any canon of taste that does 
not conform to its demands. That is to say, while the 
decadent book may be beautiful, the limits within 
which the designer may work are fixed by requirements 
of a non-aesthetic kind. The product, if it is beautiful, 
must also at the same time be costly and ill adapted 

Pecuniary Canons of Taste 165 

to its ostensible use. This mandatory canon of taste 
in the case of the book-designer, however, is not shaped 
entirely by the law of waste in its first form ; the 
canon is to some extent shaped in conformity to that 
secondary expression of the predatory temperament, 
veneration for the archaic or obsolete, which in one 
of its special developments is called classicism. 

In aesthetic theory it might be extremely difficult, 
if not quite impracticable, to draw a line between the 
canon of classicism, or regard for the archaic, and the 
canon of beauty. For the aesthetic purpose such a 
distinction need scarcely be drawn, and indeed it need 
not exist. For a theory of taste the expression of an 
accepted ideal of archaism, on whatever basis it may 
have been accepted, is perhaps best rated as an element 
of beauty ; there need be no question of its legitima- 
tion. But for the present purpose for the purpose 
of determining what economic grounds are present in 
the accepted canons of taste and what is their signifi- 
cance for the distribution and consumption of goods 
the distinction is not similarly beside the point. 

The position of machine products in the civilised 
scheme of consumption serves to point out the nature 
of the relation which subsists between the canon of 
conspicuous waste and the code of proprieties in con- 
sumption. Neither in matters of art and taste proper, 
nor as regards the current sense of the serviceability 
of goods, does this canon act as a principle of innova- 
tion or initiative. It does not go into the future as 
a creative principle which makes innovations and adds 
new items of consumption and new elements of cost 

1 66 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

The principle in question is, in a certain sense, a nega- 
tive rather than a positive law. It is a regulative 
rather than a creative principle. It very rarely ini- 
tiates or originates any usage or custom directly. Its 
action is selective only. Conspicuous wastefulness does 
not directly afford ground for variation and growth, 
but conformity to its requirements is a condition to 
the survival of such innovations as may be made on 
other grounds. In whatever way usages and customs 
and methods of expenditure arise, they are all subject 
to the selective action of this norm of reputability ; and 
the degree in which they conform to its requirements 
is a test of their fitness to survive in the competition 
with other similar usages and customs. Other things 
being equal, the more obviously wasteful usage or 
method stands the better chance of survival under this 
law. The law of conspicuous waste does not account 
for the origin of variations, but only for the persistence 
of such forms as are fit to survive under its dominance. 
It acts to conserve the fit, not to originate the accept- 
able. Its office is to prove all things and to hold fast 
that which is good for its purpose. 



IT will be in place, by way of illustration, to show in 
some detail how the economic principles so far set forth 
apply to everyday facts in some one direction of the life 
process. For this purpose no line of consumption af- 
fords a more apt illustration than expenditure on dress. 
It is especially the rule of the conspicuous waste of 
goods that finds expression in dress, although the other, 
related principles of pecuniary repute are also exempli- 
fied in the same contrivances. Other methods of put- 
ting one's pecuniary standing in evidence serve their 
end effectually, and other methods are in vogue always 
and everywhere ; but expenditure on dress has this 
advantage over most other methods, that our apparel is 
always in evidence and affords an indication of our 
pecuniary standing to all observers at the first glance. 
It is also true that admitted expenditure for display is 
more obviously present, and is, perhaps, more univer- 
sally practised in the matter of dress than in any other 
line of consumption. No one finds difficulty in assent- 
ing to the commonplace that the greater part of the 
expenditure incurred by all classes for apparel is in- 
curred for the sake of a respectable appearance rather 


1 68 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

than for the protection of the person. And probably at 
no other point is the sense of shabbiness so keenly felt 
as it is if we fall short of the standard set by social 
usage in this matter of dress. It is true of dress in 
even a higher degree than of most other items of con- 
sumption, that people will undergo a very consider- 
able degree of privation in the comforts or the neces- 
saries of life in order to afford what is considered a 
decent amount of wasteful consumption ; so that it is 
by no means an uncommon occurrence, in an inclement 
climate, for people to go ill clad in order to appear well 
dressed. And the commercial value of the goods used 
for clothing in any modern community is made up to a 
much larger extent of the fashion ableness, the reputa- 
bility of the goods than of the mechanical service which 
they render in clothing the person of the wearer. The 
need of dress is eminently a " higher " or spiritual need. 
This spiritual need of dress is not wholly, nor even 
chiefly, a naive propensity for display of expenditure. 
The law of conspicuous waste guides consumption in 
apparel, as in other things, chiefly at the second re- 
move, by shaping the canons of taste and decency. In 
the common run of cases the conscious motive of the 
wearer or purchaser of conspicuously wasteful apparel 
is the need of conforming to established usage, and of 
living up to the accredited standard of taste and reputa- 
bility. It is not only that one must be guided by the 
code of proprieties in dress in order to avoid the morti- 
fication that comes of unfavourable notice and comment, 
though that motive in itself counts for a great deal ; 
but besides that, the requirement of expensiveness is so 

Dress as an Expression of the Pecuniary Culture 169 

ingrained into our habits of thought in matters of dress 
that any other than expensive apparel is instinctively 
odious to us. Without reflection or analysis, we feel 
that what is inexpensive is unworthy. " A cheap coat 
makes a cheap man." "Cheap and nasty" is recog- 
nised to hold true in dress with even less mitigation 
than in other lines of consumption. On the ground 
both of taste and of serviceability, an inexpensive arti- 
cle of apparel is held to be inferior, under the maxim 
" cheap and nasty." We find things beautiful, as well 
as serviceable, somewhat in proportion as they are 
costly. With few and inconsequential exceptions, we 
all find a costly hand-wrought article of apparel much 
preferable, in point of beauty and of serviceability, to a 
less expensive imitation of it, however cleverly the 
spurious article may imitate the costly original ; and 
what offends our sensibilities in the spurious article is 
not that it falls short in form or colour, or, indeed, in 
visual effect in any way. The offensive object may be 
so close an imitation as to defy any but the closest 
scrutiny ; and yet so' soon as the counterfeit is detected, 
its aesthetic value, and its commercial value as well, 
declines precipitately. Not only that, but it may be 
asserted with but small risk of contradiction that the 
aesthetic value of a detected counterfeit in dress declines 
somewhat in the same proportion as the counterfeit is 
cheaper than its original. It loses caste aesthetically 
because it falls to a lower pecuniary grade. 

But the function of dress as an evidence of ability to 
pay does not end with simply showing that the wearer 
consumes valuable goods in excess of what is required 

170 The Theory of the Leistire Class 

for physical comfort. Simple conspicuous waste of 
goods is effective and gratifying as far as it goes ; it is 
good prima facie evidence of pecuniary success, and 
consequently prima facie evidence of social worth. 
But dress has subtler and more far-reaching possibili- 
ties than this crude, first-hand evidence of wasteful con- 
sumption only. If, in addition to showing that the 
wearer can afford to consume freely and uneconomi- 
cally, it can also be shown in the same stroke that he or 
she is not under the necessity of earning a livelihood, 
the evidence of social worth is enhanced in a very con- 
siderable degree. Our dress, therefore, in order to 
serve its purpose effectually, should not only be expen- 
sive, but it should also make plain to all observers that 
the wearer is not engaged in any kind of productive 
labour. In the evolutionary process by which our 
system of dress has been elaborated into its present 
admirably perfect adaptation to its purpose, this sub- 
sidiary line of evidence has received due attention. A 
detailed examination of what passes in popular appre- 
hension for elegant apparel will show that it is contrived 
at every point to convey the impression that the wearer 
does not habitually put forth any useful effort. It goes 
without saying that no apparel can be considered ele- 
gant, or even decent, if it shows the effect of manual 
labour on the part of the wearer, in the way of soil or 
wear. The pleasing effect of neat and spotless gar- 
ments is chiefly, if not altogether, due to their carrying 
the suggestion of leisure exemption from personal 
contact with industrial processes of any kind. Much 
of the charm that invests the patent-leather shoe, the 

Dress as an Expression of the Pecuniary Culture 171 

stainless linen, the lustrous cylindrical hat, and the 
walking-stick, which so greatly enhance the native 
dignity of a gentleman, comes of their pointedly sug- 
gesting that the wearer cannot when so attired bear a 
hand in any employment that is directly and immedi- 
ately of any human use. Elegant dress serves its pur- 
pose of elegance not only in that it is expensive, but 
also because it is the insignia of leisure. It not only 
shows that the wearer is able to consume a relatively 
large value, but it argues at the same time that he con- 
sumes without producing. 

The dress of women goes even farther than that of 
men in the way of demonstrating the wearer's absti- 
nence from productive employment. It needs no argu- 
ment to enforce the generalisation that the more elegant 
styles of feminine bonnets go even farther towards mak- 
ing work impossible than does the man's high hat. 
The woman's shoe adds the so-called French heel to 
the evidence of enforced leisure afforded by its polish ; 
because this high heel obviously makes any, even the 
simplest and most necessary manual work extremely 
difficult. The like is true even in a higher degree of 
the skirt and the rest of the drapery which character- 
ises woman's dress. The substantial reason for our 
tenacious attachment to the skirt is just this : it is ex- 
pensive and it hampers the wearer at every turn and 
incapacitates her for all useful exertion. The like is 
true of the feminine custom of wearing the hair exces- 
sively long. 

But the woman's apparel not only goes beyond that 
of the modern man in the degree in which it argues 

172 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

exemption from labour ; it also adds a peculiar and 
highly characteristic feature which differs in kind from 
anything habitually practised by the men. This feature 
is the class of contrivances of which the corset is the 
typical example. The corset is, in economic theory, 
substantially a mutilation, undergone for the purpose of 
lowering the subject's vitality and rendering her per- 
manently and obviously unfit for work. It is true, the 
corset impairs the personal attractions of the wearer, 
but the loss suffered on that score is offset by the gain 
in reputability which comes of her visibly increased 
expensiveness and infirmity. It may broadly be set 
down that the womanliness of woman's apparel resolves 
itself, in point of substantial fact, into the more effec- 
tive hindrance to useful exertion offered by the gar- 
ments peculiar to women. This difference between 
masculine and feminine apparel is here simply pointed 
out as a characteristic feature. The ground of its 
occurrence will be discussed presently. 

So far, then, we have, as the great and dominant 
norm of dress, the broad principle of conspicuous waste. 
Subsidiary to this principle, and as a corollary under it, 
we get as a second norm the principle of conspicuous 
leisure. In dress construction this norm works out in 
the shape of divers contrivances going to show that the 
wearer does not and, as far as it may conveniently be 
shown, can not engage in productive labour. Beyond 
these two principles there is a third of scarcely less 
constraining force, which will occur to any one who re- 
flects at all on the subject. Dress must not only be 
conspicuously expensive and inconvenient; it must at 

Dress as an Expression of the Pecuniary Culture 173 

the same time be up to date. No explanation at all 
satisfactory has hitherto been offered of the phenomenon 
of changing fashions. The imperative requirement of 
dressing in the latest accredited manner, as well as the 
fact that this accredited fashion constantly changes 
from season to season, is sufficiently familiar to every 
one, but the theory of this flux and change has not been 
worked out. We may of course say, with perfect con- 
sistency and truthfulness, that this principle of novelty 
is another corollary under the law of conspicuous waste. 
Obviously, if each garment is permitted to serve for 
but a brief term, and if none of last season's apparel is 
carried over and made further use of during the present 
season, the wasteful expenditure on dress is greatly 
increased. This is good as far as it goes, but it is nega- 
tive only. Pretty much all that this consideration war- 
rants us in saying is that the norm of conspicuous 
waste exercises a controlling surveillance in all matters 
of dress, so that any change in the fashions must con- 
form to the requirement of wastefulness ; it leaves un- 
answered the question as to the motive for making and 
accepting a change in the prevailing styles, and it also 
fails to explain why conformity to a given style at a 
given time is so imperatively necessary as we know it 
to be. 

For a creative principle, capable of serving as motive 
to invention and innovation in fashions, we shall have 
to go back to the primitive, non-economic motive with 
which apparel originated, the motive of adornment. 
Without going into an extended discussion of how and 
why this motive asserts itself under the guidance of the 

1/4 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

law of expensiveness, it may be stated broadly that each 
successive innovation in the fashions is an effort to reach 
some form of display which shall be more acceptable to 
our sense of form and colour or of effectiveness, than 
that which it displaces. The changing styles are the 
expression of a restless search for something which 
shall commend itself to our aesthetic sense ; but as each 
innovation is subject to the selective action of the norm 
of conspicuous waste, the range within which innova- 
tion can take place is somewhat restricted. The inno- 
vation must not only be more beautiful, or perhaps 
oftener less offensive, than that which it displaces, but 
it must also come up to the accepted standard of 

It would seem at first sight that the result of such 
an unremitting struggle to attain the beautiful in dress 
should be a gradual approach to artistic perfection. We 
might naturally expect that the fashions should show a 
well-marked trend in the direction of some one or more 
types of apparel eminently becoming to the human 
form ; and we might even feel that we have substantial 
ground for the hope that to-day, after all the ingenuity 
and effort which have been spent on dress these many 
years, the fashions should have achieved a relative per- 
fection and a relative stability, closely approximating to 
a permanently tenable artistic ideal. But such is not 
the case. It would be very hazardous indeed to assert 
that the styles of to-day are intrinsically more becoming 
than those of ten years ago, or than those of twenty, or 
fifty, or one hundred years ago. On the other hand, 
the assertion freely goes uncontradicted that styles in 

Dress as an Expression of the Pecuniary Ctilture 175 

vogue two thousand years ago are more becoming than 
the most elaborate and painstaking constructions of 

The explanation of the fashions just offered, then, does 
not fully explain, and we shall have to look farther. It 
is well known that certain relatively stable styles and 
types of costume have been worked out in various parts 
of the world ; as, for instance, among the Japanese, 
Chinese, and other Oriental nations ; likewise among 
the Greeks, Romans, and other Eastern peoples of 
antiquity ; so also, in later times, among the peasants 
of nearly every country of Europe. These national 
or popular costumes are in most cases adjudged by com- 
petent critics to be more becoming, more artistic, than 
the fluctuating styles of modern civilised apparel. At 
the same time they are also, at least usually, less ob- 
viously wasteful ; that is to say, other elements than 
that of a display of expense are more readily detected 
in their structure. 

These relatively stable costumes are, commonly, pretty 
strictly and narrowly localised, and they vary by slight 
and systematic gradations from place to place. They 
have in every case been worked out by peoples or 
classes which are poorer than we, and especially they 
belong in countries and localities and times where the 
population, or at least the class to which the costume 
in question belongs, is relatively homogeneous, stable, 
and immobile. That is to say, stable costumes which 
will bear the test of time and perspective are worked 
out under circumstances where the norm of conspicuous 
waste asserts itself less imperatively than it does in the 

176 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

large modern civilised cities, whose relatively mobile, 
wealthy population to-day sets the pace in matters of 
fashion. The countries and classes which have in this 
way worked out stable and artistic costumes have been 
so placed that the pecuniary emulation among them has 
taken the direction of a competition in conspicuous 
leisure rather than in conspicuous consumption of goods. 
So that it will hold true in a general way that fashions 
are least stable and least becoming in those communi- 
ties where the principle of a conspicuous waste of goods 
asserts itself most imperatively, as among ourselves. All 
this points to an antagonism between expensiveness 
and artistic apparel. In point of practical fact, the 
norm of conspicuous waste is incompatible with the 
requirement that dress should be beautiful or becoming. 
And this antagonism offers an explanation of that rest- 
less change in fashion which neither the canon of ex- 
pensiveness nor that of beauty alone can account for. 

The standard of reputability requires that dress should 
show wasteful expenditure ; but all wastefulness is 
offensive to native taste. The psychological law has 
already been pointed out that all men and women per- 
haps even in a higher degree abhor futility, whether 
of effort or of expenditure, much as Nature was once 
said to abhor a vacuum. But the principle of con- 
spicuous waste requires an obviously futile expenditure ; 
and the resulting conspicuous expensiveness of dress is 
therefore intrinsically ugly. Hence we find that in all 
innovations in dress, each added or altered detail strives 
to avoid instant condemnation by showing some osten- 
sible purpose, at the same time that the requirement 

Dress as an Expression of the Pecuniary Culture 177 

of conspicuous waste prevents the purposefulness of 
these innovations from becoming anything more than 
a somewhat transparent pretense. Even in its freest 
flights, fashion rarely if ever gets away from a simula- 
tion of some ostensible use. The ostensible usefulness 
of the fashionable details of dress, however, is always so 
transparent a make-believe, and their substantial futility 
presently forces itself so baldly upon our attention as to 
become unbearable, and then we take refuge in a new 
style. But the new style must conform to the require- 
ment of reputable wastefulness and futility. Its futility 
presently becomes as odious as that of its predecessor ; 
and the only remedy which the law of waste allows us 
is to seek relief in some new construction, equally futile 
and equally untenable. Hence the essential ugliness 
and the unceasing change of fashionable attire. 

Having so explained the phenomenon of shifting 
fashions, the next thing is to make the explanation 
tally with everyday facts. Among these everyday facts 
is the well-known liking which all men have for the 
styles that are in vogue at any given time. A new 
style comes into vogue and remains in favour for a sea- 
son, and, at least so long as it is a novelty, people very 
generally find the new style attractive. The prevailing 
fashion is felt to be beautiful. This is due partly to the 
relief it affords in being different from what went before 
it, partly to its being reputable. As indicated in the 
last chapter, the canon of reputability to some extent 
shapes our tastes, so that under its guidance anything 
will be accepted as becoming until its novelty wears off, 
or until the warrant of reputability is transferred to a 

178 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

new and novel structure serving the same general pur- 
pose. That the alleged beauty, or "loveliness," of the 
styles in vogue at any given time is transient and spu- 
rious only is attested by the fact that none of the many 
shifting fashions will bear the test of time. When seen 
in the perspective of half-a-dozen years or more, the 
best of our fashions strike us as grotesque, if not un- 
sightly. Our transient attachment to whatever happens 
to be the latest rests on other than aesthetic grounds, 
and lasts only until our abiding aesthetic sense has had 
time to assert itself and reject this latest indigestible 

The process of developing an aesthetic nausea takes 
more or less time ; the length of time required in any 
given case being inversely as the degree of intrinsic 
odiousness of the style in question. This time relation 
between odiousness and instability in fashions affords 
ground for the inference that the more rapidly the 
styles succeed and displace one another, the more offen- 
sive they are to sound taste. The presumption, there- 
fore, is that the farther the community, especially the 
wealthy classes of the community, develop in wealth and 
mobility and in the range of their human contact, the 
more imperatively will the law of conspicuous waste 
assert itself in matters of dress, the more will the sense 
of beauty tend to fall into abeyance or be overborne by 
the canon of pecuniary reputability, the more rapidly 
will fashions shift and change, and the more grotesque 
and intolerable will be the varying styles that succes- 
sively come into vogue. 

There remains at least one point in this theory of 

Dress as an Expression of the Pecuniary Culture 179 

dress yet to be discussed. Most of what has been said 
applies to men's attire as well as to that of women ; 
although in modern times it applies at nearly all points 
with greater force to that of women. But at one 
point the dress of women differs substantially from 
that of men. In woman's dress there is an obviously 
greater insistence on such features as testify to the 
wearer's exemption from or incapacity for all vulgarly 
productive employment. This characteristic of woman's 
apparel is of interest, not only as completing the theory 
of dress, but also as confirming what has already been 
said of the economic status of women, both in the past 
and in the present. 

As has been seen in the discussion of woman's status 
under the heads of Vicarious Leisure and Vicarious 
Consumption, it has in the course of economic develop- 
ment become the office of the woman to consume vica- 
riously for the head of the household ; and her apparel is 
contrived with this object in view. It has come about 
that obviously productive labour is in a peculiar degree 
derogatory to respectable women, and therefore special 
pains should be taken in the construction of women's 
dress, to impress upon the beholder the fact (often 
indeed a fiction) that the wearer does not and can not 
habitually engage in useful work. Propriety requires 
respectable women to abstain more consistently from 
useful effort and to make more of a show of leisure than 
the men of the same social classes. It grates painfully 
on our nerves to contemplate the necessity of any well- 
bred woman's earning a livelihood by useful work. It 
is not "woman's sphere." Her sphere is within the 

180 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

household, which she should "beautify," and of which 
she should be the "chief ornament." The male head of 
the household is not currently spoken of as its ornament. 
This feature taken in conjunction with the other fact 
that propriety requires more unremitting attention to 
expensive display in the dress and other paraphernalia 
of women, goes to enforce the view already implied in 
what has gone before. By virtue of its descent from a 
patriarchal past, our social system makes it the woman's 
function in an especial degree to put in evidence her 
household's ability to pay. According to the modern 
civilised scheme of life, the good name of the household 
to which she belongs should be the special care of the 
woman ; and the system of honorific expenditure and 
conspicuous leisure by which this good name is chiefly 
sustained is therefore the woman's sphere. In the ideal 
scheme, as it tends to realise itself in the life of the 
higher pecuniary classes, this attention to conspicuous 
waste of substance and effort should normally be the 
sole economic function of the woman. 

At the stage of economic development at which the 
women were still in the full sense the property of the 
men, the performance of conspicuous leisure and con- 
sumption came to be part of the services required of 
them. The women being not their own masters, 
obvious expenditure and leisure on their part would re- 
dound to the credit of their master rather than to their 
own credit ; and therefore the more expensive and the 
more obviously unproductive the women of the house- 
hold are, the more creditable and more effective for 
the purpose of the reputability of the household or its 

Dress as an Expression of the Pecuniary Culture 181 

head will their life be. So much so that the women 
have been required not only to afford evidence of a life of 
leisure, but even to disable themselves for useful activity. 

It is at this point that the dress of men falls short 
of that of women, and for a sufficient reason. Con- 
spicuous waste and conspicuous leisure are reputable 
because they are evidence of pecuniary strength ; pe- 
cuniary strength is reputable or honorific because, 
in the last analysis, it argues success and superior 
force ; therefore the evidence of waste and leisure put 
forth by any individual in his own behalf cannot con- 
sistently take such a form or be carried to such a pitch 
as to argue incapacity or marked discomfort on his 
part ; as the exhibition would in that case show not 
superior force, but inferiority, and so defeat its own pur- 
pose. So, then, wherever wasteful expenditure and the 
show of abstention from effort is normally, or on an 
average, carried to the extent of showing obvious 
discomfort or voluntarily induced physical disability, 
there the immediate inference is that the individual 
in question does not perform this wasteful expenditure 
and undergo this disability for her own personal gain 
in pecuniary repute, but in behalf of some one else 
to whom she stands in a relation of economic depend- 
ence ; a relation which in the last analysis must, in 
economic theory, reduce itself to a relation of servitude. 

To apply this generalisation to women's dress, and 
put the matter in concrete terms : the high heel, the 
skirt, the impracticable bonnet, the corset, and the 
general disregard of the wearer's comfort which is an 
obvious feature of all civilised women's apparel, are 

1 82 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

so many items of evidence to the effect that in the 
modern civilised scheme of life the woman is still, in 
theory, the economic dependent of the man, that, per- 
haps in a highly idealised sense, she still is the man's 
chattel. The homely reason for all this conspicuous 
leisure and attire on the part of women lies in the 
fact that they are servants to whom, in the differen- 
tiation of economic functions, has been delegated the 
office of putting in evidence their master's ability to pay. 

There is a marked similarity in these respects be- 
tween the apparel of women and that of domestic 
servants, especially liveried servants. In both there 
is a very elaborate show of unnecessary expensiveness, 
and in both cases there is also a notable disregard of 
the physical comfort of the wearer. But the attire 
of the lady goes farther in its elaborate insistence on 
the idleness, if not on the physical infirmity of the 
wearer, than does that of the domestic. And this is 
as it should be ; for in theory, according to the ideal 
scheme of the pecuniary culture, the lady of the house 
is the chief menial of the household. 

Besides servants, currently recognised as such, there 
is at least one other class of persons whose garb assimi- 
lates them to the class of servants and shows many of 
the features that go to make up the womanliness of 
woman's dress. This is the priestly class. Priestly 
vestments show, in accentuated form, all the features 
that have been shown to be evidence of a servile status 
and a vicarious life. Even more strikingly than the 
everyday habit of the priest, the vestments, properly 
so called, are ornate, grotesque, inconvenient, and, at 

Dress as an Expression of the Pecuniary Culture 183 

least ostensibly, comfortless to the point of distress. 
The priest is at the same time expected to refrain from 
useful effort and, when before the public eye, to present 
an impassively disconsolate countenance, very much 
after the manner of a well-trained domestic servant. 
The shaven face of the priest is a further item to the 
same effect. This assimilation of the priestly class to 
the class of body servants, in demeanour and apparel, 
is due to the similarity of the two classes as regards 
economic function. In economic theory, the priest is 
a body servant, constructively in attendance upon the 
person of the divinity whose livery he wears. His 
livery is of a very expensive character, as it should be 
in order to set forth in a beseeming manner the dignity 
of his exalted master ; but it is contrived to show that 
the wearing of it contributes little or nothing to the 
physical comfort of the wearer, for it is an item of 
vicarious consumption, and the repute which accrues 
from its consumption is to be imputed to the absent 
master, not to the servant. 

The line of demarcation between the dress of women, 
priests, and servants, on the one hand, and of men, on 
the other hand, is not always consistently observed 
in practice, but it will scarcely be disputed that it is 
always present in a more or less definite way in the 
popular habits of thought. There are of course also 
free men, and not a few of them, who, in their blind 
zeal for faultlessly reputable attire, transgress the 
theoretical line between man's and woman's dress, to 
the extent of arraying themselves in apparel that is 
obviously designed to vex the mortal frame ; but every 

184 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

one recognises without hesitation that such apparel for 
men is a departure from the normal. We are in the 
habit of saying that such dress is "effeminate"; and one 
sometimes hears the remark that such or such an exqui- 
sitely attired gentleman is as well dressed as a footman. 
Certain apparent discrepancies under this theory of 
dress merit a more detailed examination, especially as 
they mark a more or less evident trend in the later 
and maturer development of dress. The vogue of the 
corset offers an apparent exception from the rule of 
which it has here been cited as an illustration. A 
closer examination, however, will show that this appar- 
ent exception is really a verification of the rule that 
the vogue of any given element or feature in dress 
rests on its utility as an evidence of pecuniary standing. 
It is well known that in the industrially more advanced 
communities the corset is employed only within certain 
fairly well, defined social strata. The women of the 
poorer classes, especially of the rural population, do not 
habitually use it, except as a holiday luxury. Among 
these classes the women have to work hard, and it 
avails them little in the way of a pretense of leisure 
to so crucify the flesh in everyday life. The holiday use 
of the contrivance is due to imitation of a higher-class 
canon of decency. Upwards from this low level of 
indigence and manual labour, the corset was until within 
a generation or two nearly indispensable to a socially 
blameless standing for all women, including the wealthi- 
est and most reputable. This rule held so long as 
there still was no large class of people wealthy enough 
to be above the imputation of any necessity for manual 

Dress as an Expression of the Pecuniary Culture 185 

labour and at the same time large enough to form a self- 
sufficient, isolated social body whose mass would afford 
a foundation for special rules of conduct within the 
class, enforced by the current opinion of the class alone. 
But now there has grown up a large enough leisure 
class possessed of such wealth that any aspersion on 
the score of enforced manual employment would be 
idle and harmless calumny ; and the corset has there- 
fore in large measure fallen into disuse within this class. 
The exceptions under this rule of exemption from the 
corset are more apparent than real. They are the 
wealthy classes of countries with a lower industrial 
structure nearer the archaic, quasi-industrial type 
together with the later accessions of the wealthy classes 
in the more advanced industrial communities. The 
latter have not yet had time to divest themselves of 
the plebeian canons of taste and of reputability carried 
over from their former, lower pecuniary grade. Such 
survival of the corset is not infrequent among the 
higher social classes of those American cities, for 
instance, which have recently and rapidly risen into 
opulence. If the word be used as a technical term, 
without any odious implication, it may be said that the 
corset persists in great measure through the period of 
snobbery the interval of uncertainty and of transi- 
tion from a lower to the upper levels of pecuniary cult- 
ure. That is to say, in all countries which have 
inherited the corset it continues in use wherever and 
so long as it serves its purpose as an evidence of 
honorific leisure by arguing physical disability in the 
wearer. The same rule of course applies to other 

1 86 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

mutilations and contrivances for decreasing the visible 
efficiency of the individual. 

Something similar should hold true with respect to 
divers items of conspicuous consumption, and indeed 
something of the kind does seem to hold to a slight 
degree of sundry features of dress, especially if such 
features involve a marked discomfort or appearance of 
discomfort to the wearer. During the past one hundred 
years there is a tendency perceptible, in the develop- 
ment of men's dress especially, to discontinue methods 
of expenditure and the use of symbols of leisure which 
must have been irksome, which may have served a good 
purpose in their time, but the continuation of which 
among the upper classes to-day would be a work of 
supererogation ; as, for instance, the use of powdered 
wigs and of gold lace, and the practice of constantly 
shaving the face. There has of late years been some 
slight recrudescence of the shaven face in polite society, 
but this is probably a transient and unadvised mimicry 
of the fashion imposed upon body servants, and it may 
fairly be expected to go the way of the powdered wig 
of our grandfathers. 

These indices, and others which resemble them in 
point of the boldness with which they point out to all 
observers the habitual uselessness of those persons who 
employ them, have been replaced by other, more deli- 
cate methods of expressing the same fact ; methods 
which are no less evident to the trained eyes of that 
smaller, select circle whose good opinion is chiefly 
sought. The earlier and cruder method of advertise- 
ment held its ground so long as the public to which the 

Dress as an Expression of the Pecuniary Culture 187 

exhibitor had to appeal comprised large portions of the 
community who were not trained to detect delicate 
variations in the evidences of wealth and leisure. The 
method of advertisement undergoes a refinement when 
a sufficiently large wealthy class has developed, who 
have the leisure for acquiring skill in interpreting the 
subtler signs of expenditure. " Loud " dress becomes 
offensive to people of taste, as evincing an undue desire 
to reach and impress the untrained sensibilities of the 
vulgar. To the individual of high breeding it is only 
the more honorific esteem accorded by the cultivated 
sense of the members of his own high class that is of 
material consequence. Since the wealthy leisure class 
has grown so large, or the contact of the leisure-class 
individual with members of his own class has grown so 
wide, as to constitute a human environment sufficient 
for the honorific purpose, there arises a tendency to 
exclude the baser elements of the population from the 
scheme even as spectators whose applause or mortifica- 
tion should be sought. The result of all this is a re- 
finement of methods, a resort to subtler contrivances, 
and a spiritualisation of the scheme of symbolism in 
dress. And as this upper leisure class sets the pace in 
all matters of decency, the result for the rest of society 
also is a gradual amelioration of the scheme of dress. 
As the community advances in wealth and culture, 
the ability to pay is put in evidence by means which 
require a progressively nicer discrimination in the be- 
holder. This nicer discrimination between advertising 
media is in fact a very large element of the higher 
pecuniary culture. 



THE life of man in society, just like the life of other 
species, is a struggle for existence, and therefore it is a 
process of selective adaptation. The evolution of social 
structure has been a process of natural selection of in- 
stitutions. The progress which has been and is being 
made in human institutions and in human character 
may be set down, broadly, to a natural selection of the 
fittest habits of thought and to a process of enforced 
adaptation of individuals to an environment which has 
progressively changed with the growth of the commu- 
nity and with the changing institutions under which 
men have lived. Institutions are not only themselves the 
result of a selective and adaptive process which shapes 
the prevailing or dominant types of spiritual attitude and 
aptitudes ; they are at the same time special methods of 
life and of human relations, and are therefore in their 
turn efficient factors of selection. So that the changing 
institutions in their turn make for a further selection of 
individuals endowed with the fittest temperament, and a 
further adaptation of individual temperament and habits 
to the changing environment through the formation of 
new institutions. 

1 88 

Industrial Exemption and Conservatism 189 

The forces which have shaped the development of 
human life and of social structure are no doubt ulti- 
mately reducible to terms of living tissue and material 
environment; but proximately, for the purpose in hand, 
these forces may best be stated in terms of an environ- 
ment, partly human, partly non-human, and a human sub- 
ject with a more or less definite physical and intellectual 
constitution. Taken in the aggregate or average, this 
human subject is more or less variable ; chiefly, no 
doubt, under a rule of selective conservation of favour- 
able variations. The selection of favourable variations 
is perhaps in great measure a selective conservation of 
ethnic types. In the life history of any community 
whose population is made up of a mixture of divers 
ethnic elements, one or another of several persistent 
and relatively stable types of body and of temperament 
rises into dominance at any given point. The situation, 
including the institutions in force at any given time, 
will favour the survival and dominance of one type of 
character in preference to another ; and the type of man 
so selected to continue and to further elaborate the 
institutions handed down from the past will in some 
considerable measure shape these institutions in his 
own likeness. But apart from selection as between 
relatively stable types of character and habits of mind, 
there is no doubt simultaneously going on a process of 
selective adaptation of habits of thought within the 
general range of aptitudes which is characteristic of the 
dominant ethnic type or types. There may be a varia- 
tion in the fundamental character of any population by 
selection between relatively stable types ; but there is 

The Theory of the Leisttre Class 

also a variation due to adaptation in detail within the 
range of the type, and to selection between specific 
habitual views regarding any given social relation or 
group of relations. 

For the present purpose, however, the question as to 
the nature of the adaptive process whether it is 
chiefly a selection between stable types of temperament 
and character, or chiefly an adaptation of men's habits 
of thought to changing circumstances is of less im- 
portance than the fact that, by one method or another, 
institutions change and develop. Institutions must 
change with changing circumstances, since they are 
of the nature of an habitual method of responding to 
the stimuli which these changing circumstances afford. 
The development of these institutions is the develop- 
ment of society. The institutions are, in substance, 
prevalent habits of thought with respect to particular 
relations and particular functions of the individual and 
of the community; and the scheme of life, which is 
made up of the aggregate of institutions in force at a 
given time or at a given point in the development of 
any society, may, on the psychological side, be broadly 
characterised as a prevalent spiritual attitude or a prev- 
alent theory of life. As regards its generic features, 
this spiritual attitude or theory of life is in the last 
analysis reducible to terms of a prevalent type of 

The situation of to-day shapes the institutions of to- 
morrow through a selective, coercive process, by acting 
upon men's habitual view of things, and so altering or 
fortifying a point of view or a mental attitude handed 

Industrial Exemption and Conservatism 191 

down from the past. The institutions that is to say 
the habits of thought under the guidance of which 
men live are in this way received from an earlier time ; 
more or less remotely earlier, but in any event they have 
been elaborated in and received from the past. Insti- 
tutions are products of the past process, are adapted 
to past circumstances, and are therefore never in full 
accord with the requirements of the present. In the 
nature of the case, this process of selective adaptation 
can never catch up with the progressively changing 
situation in which the community finds itself at any 
given time ; for the environment, the situation, the exi- 
gencies of life which enforce the adaptation and exercise 
the selection, change from day to day ; and each succes- 
sive situation of the community in its turn tends to 
obsolescence as soon as it has been established. When 
a step in the development has been taken, this step itself 
constitutes a change of situation which requires a new 
adaptation ; it becomes the point of departure for a new 
step in the adjustment, and so on interminably. 

It is to be noted then, although it may be a tedious 
truism, that the institutions of to-day the present ac- 
cepted scheme of life do not entirely fit the situation 
of to-day. At the same time, men's present habits of 
thought tend to persist indefinitely, except as circum- 
stances enforce a change. These institutions which have 
so been handed down, these habits of thought, points 
of view, mental attitudes and aptitudes, or what not, 
are therefore themselves a conservative factor. This is 
the factor of social inertia, psychological inertia, con- 

192 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

Social structure changes, develops, adapts itself to an 
altered situation, only through a change in the habits of 
thought of the several classes of the community ; or in 
the last analysis, through a change in the habits of 
thought of the individuals which make up the commu- 
nity. The evolution of society is substantially a pro- 
cess of mental adaptation on the part of individuals under 
the stress of circumstances which will no longer toler- 
ate habits of thought formed under and conforming to 
a different set of circumstances in the past. For the 
immediate purpose it need not be a question of serious 
importance whether this adaptive process is a process 
of selection and survival of persistent ethnic types or a 
process of individual adaptation and an inheritance of 
acquired traits. 

Social advance, especially as seen from the point of 
view of economic theory, consists in a continued pro- 
gressive approach to an approximately exact "adjust- 
ment of inner relations to outer relations " ; but this 
adjustment is never definitively established, since the 
"outer relations" are subject to constant change as a 
consequence of the progressive change going on in the 
"inner relations." But the degree of approximation 
may be greater or less, depending on the facility with 
which an adjustment is made. A readjustment of 
men's habits of thought to conform with the exigencies 
of an altered situation is in any case made only tardily 
and reluctantly, and only under the coercion exercised 
by a situation which has made the accredited views un- 
tenable. The readjustment of institutions and habitual 
views to an altered environment is made in response to 

Industrial Exemption and Conservatism 193 

pressure from without ; it is of the nature of a response 
to stimulus. Freedom and facility of readjustment, that 
is to say capacity for growth in social structure, there- 
fore depends in great measure on the degree of freedom 
with which the situation at any given time acts on the 
individual members of the community the degree of 
exposure of the individual members to the constraining 
forces of the environment. If any portion or class of 
society is sheltered from the action of the environment 
in any essential respect, that portion of the community, 
or that class, will adapt its views and its scheme of life 
more tardily to the altered general situation ; it will in 
so far tend to retard the process of social transforma- 
tion. The wealthy leisure class is in such a sheltered 
position with respect to the economic forces that make 
for change and readjustment. And it may be said that 
the forces which make for a readjustment of institu- 
tions, especially in the case of a modern industrial com- 
munity, are, in the last analysis, almost entirely of an 
economic nature. 

Any community may be viewed as an industrial or 
economic mechanism, the structure of which is made 
up of what is called its economic institutions. These 
institutions are habitual methods of carrying on the life 
process of the community in contact with the material 
environment in which it lives. When given methods 
of unfolding human activity in this given environment 
have been elaborated in this way, the life of the com- 
munity will express itself with some facility in these 
habitual directions. The community will make use of 
the forces of the environment for the purposes of its 

194 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

life according to methods learned in the past and em- 
bodied in these institutions. But as population in- 
creases, and as men's knowledge and skill in directing 
the forces of nature widen, the habitual methods of 
relation between the members of the group, and the 
habitual method of carrying on the life process of the 
group as a whole, no longer give the same result as 
before ; nor are the resulting conditions of life distrib- 
uted and apportioned in the same manner or with the 
same effect among the various members as before. If 
the scheme according to which the life process of the 
group was carried on under the earlier conditions gave 
approximately the highest attainable result under the 
circumstances in the way of efficiency or facility of 
the life process of the group ; then the same scheme of 
life unaltered will not yield the highest result attainable 
in this respect under the altered conditions. Under the , 
altered conditions of population, skill, and knowledge, 
the facility of life as carried on according to the tradi- 
tional scheme may not be lower than under the earlier 
conditions ; but the chances are always that it is less 
than might be if the scheme were altered to suit the 
altered conditions. 

The group is made up of individuals, and the group's 
life is the life of individuals carried on in at least osten- 
sible severalty. The group's accepted scheme of life 
is the consensus of views held by the body of these 
individuals as to what is right, good, expedient, and 
beautiful in the way of human life. In the redistribu- 
tion of the conditions of life that comes of the altered 
method of dealing with the environment, the outcome 

Industrial Exemption and Conservatism 195 

is not an equable change in the facility of life through- 
out the group. The altered conditions may increase 
the facility of life for the group as a whole, but the re- 
distribution will usually result in a decrease of facility 
or fulness of life for some members of the group. An 
advance in technical methods, in population, or in in- 
dustrial organisation will require at least some of the 
members of the community to change their habits of 
life, if they are to enter with facility and effect into the 
altered industrial methods ; and in doing so they will 
be unable to live up to the received notions as to what 
are the right and beautiful habits of life. 

Any one who is required to change his habits of life 
and his habitual relations to his fellow-men will feel the 
discrepancy between the method of life required of him 
by the newly arisen exigencies, and the traditional 
scheme of life to which he is accustomed. It is the 
individuals placed in this position who have the liveliest 
incentive to reconstruct the received scheme of life and 
are most readily persuaded to accept new standards ; 
and it is through the need of the means of livelihood 
that men are placed in such a position. The pressure 
exerted by the environment upon the group, and mak- 
ing for a readjustment of the group's scheme of life, 
impinges upon the members of the group in the form 
of pecuniary exigencies ; and it is owing to this fact 
that external forces are in great part translated into the 
form of pecuniary or economic exigencies it is owing 
to this fact that we can say that the forces which count 
toward a readjustment of institutions in any modern 
industrial community are chiefly economic forces; or 

196 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

more specifically, these forces take the form of pecun- 
iary pressure. Such a readjustment as is here contem- 
plated is substantially a change in men's views as to 
what is good and right, and the means through which 
a change is wrought in men's apprehension of what is 
good and right is in large part the pressure of pecun- 
iary exigencies. 

Any change in men's views as to what is good and 
right in human life makes its way but tardily at the 
best. Especially is this true of any change in the di- 
rection of what is called progress ; that is to say, in the 
direction of divergence from the archaic position from 
the position which may be accounted the point of de- 
parture at any step in the social evolution of the com- 
munity. Retrogression, reapproach to a standpoint to 
which the race has been long habituated in the past, is 
easier. This is especially true in case the development 
away from this past standpoint has not been due chiefly 
to a substitution of an ethnic type whose temperament 
is alien to the earlier standpoint. 

The cultural stage which lies immediately back of 
the present in the life history of Western civilisation is 
what has here been called the quasi-peaceable stage. 
At this quasi-peaceable stage the law of status is the 
dominant feature in the scheme of life. There is no 
need of pointing out how prone the men of to-day are 
to revert to the spiritual attitude of mastery and of 
personal subservience which characterises that stage. 
It may rather be said to be held in an uncertain abey- 
ance by the economic exigencies of to-day, than to have 
been definitively supplanted by a habit of mind that is 

Industrial Exemption and Conservatism 197 

in full accord with these later-developed exigencies. 
The predatory and quasi-peaceable stages of economic 
evolution seem to have been of long duration in the life 
history of all the chief ethnic elements which go to 
make up the populations of the Western culture. The 
temperament and the propensities proper to those 
cultural stages have, therefore, attained such a per- 
sistence as to make a speedy reversion to the broad 
features of the corresponding psychological constitution 
inevitable in the case of any class or community which 
is removed from the action of those forces that make 
for a maintenance of the later-developed habits of 

It is a matter of common notoriety that when indi- 
viduals, or even considerable groups of men, are segre- 
gated from a higher industrial culture and exposed to a 
lower cultural environment, or to an economic situation 
of a more primitive character, they quickly show evi- 
dence of reversion toward the spiritual features which 
characterise the predatory type ; and it seems probable 
that the dolicho-blond type of European man is pos- 
sessed of a greater facility for such reversion to bar- 
barism than the other ethnic elements with which that 
type is associated in the Western culture. Examples 
of such a reversion on a small scale abound in the later 
history of migration and colonisation. Except for the 
fear of offending that chauvinistic patriotism which is 
so characteristic a feature of the predatory culture, and 
the presence of which is frequently the most striking 
mark of reversion in modern communities, the case of 
the American colonies might be cited as an example of 

198 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

such a reversion on an unusually large scale, though it 
was not a reversion of very large scope. 

The leisure class is in great measure sheltered from 
the stress of those economic exigencies which prevail 
in any modern, highly organised industrial community. 
The exigencies of the struggle for the means of life are 
less exacting for this class than for any other ; and as 
a consequence of this privileged position we should 
expect to find it one of the least responsive of the 
classes of society to the demands which the situation 
makes for a further growth of institutions and a read- 
justment to an altered industrial situation. The leisure 
class is the conservative class. The exigencies of the 
general economic situation of the community do not 
freely or directly impinge upon the members of this 
class. They are not required under penalty of for- 
feiture to change their habits of life and their theoreti- 
cal views of the external world to suit the demands of 
an altered industrial technique, since they are not in 
the full sense an organic part of the industrial com- 
munity. Therefore these exigencies do not readily 
produce, in the members of this class, that degree of 
uneasiness with the existing order which alone can 
lead any body of men to give up views and methods of 
life that have become habitual to them. The office of 
the leisure class in social evolution is to retard the 
movement and to conserve what is obsolescent. This 
proposition is by no means novel ; it has long been one 
of the commonplaces of popular opinion. 

The prevalent conviction that the wealthy class is by 

Industrial Exemption and Conservatism 199 

nature conservative has been popularly accepted with- 
out much aid from any theoretical view as to the place 
and relation of that class in the cultural development. 
When an explanation of this class conservatism is 
offered, it is commonly the invidious one that the 
wealthy class opposes innovation because it has a 
vested interest, of an unworthy sort, in maintaining the 
present conditions. The explanation here put forward 
imputes no unworthy motive. The opposition of the 
class to changes in the cultural scheme is instinctive, 
and does not rest primarily on an interested calculation 
of material advantages ; it is an instinctive revulsion at 
any departure from the accepted way of doing and of 
looking at things a revulsion common to all men and 
only to be overcome by stress of circumstances. All 
change in habits of life and of thought is irksome. 
The difference in this respect between the wealthy 
and the commonl run of mankind lies not so much in 
the motive which prompts to conservatism as in the 
degree of exposure to the economic forces that urge a 
change. The members of the wealthy class do not 
yield to the demand for innovation as readily as other 
men because they are not constrained to do so. 

This conservatism of the wealthy class is so obvious 
a feature that it has even come to be recognised as a 
mark of respectability. Since conservatism is a char- 
acteristic of the wealthier and therefore more reputable 
portion of the community, it has acquired a certain 
honorific or decorative value. It has become prescrip- 
tive to such an extent that an adherence to conservative 
views is comprised as a matter of course in our notions 

2OO The Theory of the Leisure Class 

of respectability ; and it is imperatively incumbent on 
all who would lead a blameless life in point of social 
repute. Conservatism, being an upper-class character- 
istic, is decorous ; and conversely, innovation, being a 
lower-class phenomenon, is vulgar. The first and most 
unreflected element in that instinctive revulsion and 
reprobation with which we turn from all social inno- 
vators is this sense of the essential vulgarity of the 
thing. So that even in cases where one recognises the 
substantial merits of the case for which the innovator 
is spokesman as may easily happen if the evils which 
he seeks to remedy are sufficiently remote in point of 
time or space or personal contact still one cannot but 
be sensible of the fact that the innovator is a person 
with whom it is at least distasteful to be associated, 
and from whose social contact one must shrink. Inno- 
vation is bad form. 

The fact that the usages, actions, and views of the 
well-to-do leisure class acquire the character of a pre- 
scriptive canon of conduct for the rest of society, gives 
added weight and reach to the conservative influence 
of that class. It makes it incumbent upon all reputa- 
ble people to follow their lead. So that, by virtue of its 
high position as the avatar of good form, the wealthier 
class comes to exert a retarding influence upon social 
development far in excess of that which the simple 
numerical strength of the class would assign it. Its 
prescriptive example acts to greatly stiffen the resist- 
ance of all other classes against any innovation, and to 
fix men's affections upon the good institutions handed 
down from an earlier generation. 

Industrial Exemption and Conservatism 20 1 

There is a second way in which the influence of the 
leisure class acts in the same direction, so far as con- 
cerns hindrance to the adoption of a conventional 
scheme of life more in accord with the exigencies of 
the time. This second method of upper-class guidance 
is not in strict consistency to be brought under the 
same category as the instinctive conservatism and aver- 
sion to new modes of thought just spoken of ; but it 
may as well be dealt with here, since it has at least this 
much in common with the conservative habit of mind 
that it acts to retard innovation and the growth of 
social structure. The code of proprieties, convention- 
alities, and usages in vogue at any given time and 
among any given people has more or less of the char- 
acter of an organic whole; so that any appreciable 
change in one point of the scheme involves something 
of a change or readjustment at other points also, if not 
a reorganisation all along the line. When a change is 
made which immediately touches only a minor point in 
the scheme, the consequent derangement of the struc- 
ture of conventionalities may be inconspicuous ; but even 
in such a case it is safe to say that some derangement 
of the general scheme, more or less far-reaching, will 
follow. On the other hand, when an attempted reform 
involves the suppression or thorough-going remodelling 
of an institution of first-rate importance in the conven- 
tional scheme, it is immediately felt that a serious de- 
rangement of the entire scheme would result ; it is felt 
that a readjustment of the structure to the new form 
taken on by one of its chief elements would be a pain- 
ful and tedious, if not a doubtful process. 

2O2 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

In order to realise the difficulty which such a radical 
change in any one feature of the conventional scheme of 
life would involve, it is only necessary to suggest the 
suppression of the monogamic family, or of the agnatic 
system of consanguinity, or of private property, or of 
the theistic faith, in any country of the Western civilisa- 
tion ; or suppose the suppression of ancestor worship in 
China, or of the caste system in India, or of slavery 
in Africa, or the establishment of equality of the sexes 
in Mohammedan countries. It needs no argument to 
show that the derangement of the general structure of 
conventionalities in any of these cases would be very 
considerable. In order to effect such an innovation a 
very far-reaching alteration of men's habits of thought 
would be involved also at other points of the scheme 
than the one immediately in question. The aversion to 
any such innovation amounts to a shrinking from an 
essentially alien scheme of life. 

The revulsion felt by good people at any proposed 
departure from the accepted methods of life is a familiar 
fact of everyday experience. It is not unusual to hear 
those persons who dispense salutary advice and admoni- 
tion to the community express themselves forcibly upon 
the far-reaching pernicious effects which the community 
would suffer from such relatively slight changes as the 
disestablishment of the Anglican Church, an increased 
facility of divorce, adoption of female suffrage, prohibi- 
tion of the manufacture and sale of intoxicating bever- 
ages, abolition or restriction of inheritance, etc. Any 
one of these innovations would, we are told, "shake the 
social structure to its base," " reduce society to chaos," 

Industrial Exemption and Conservatism 203 

" subvert the foundations of morality," " make life intol- 
erable," "confound the order of nature," etc. These 
various locutions are, no doubt, of the nature of hyper- 
bole ; but, at the same time, like all overstatement, they 
are evidence of a lively sense of the gravity of the con- 
sequences which they are intended to describe. The 
effect of these and like innovations in deranging the 
accepted scheme of life is felt to be of much graver 
consequence than the simple alteration of an isolated 
item in a series of contrivances for the convenience of 
men in society. What is true in so obvious a degree 
of innovations of first-rate importance is true in a less 
degree of changes of a smaller immediate importance. 
The aversion to change is in large part an aversion to 
the bother of making the readjustment which any given 
change will necessitate ; and this solidarity of the sys- 
tem of institutions of any given culture or of any given 
people strengthens the instinctive resistance offered to 
any change in men's habits of thought, even in matters 
which, taken by themselves, are of minor importance. 

A consequence of this increased reluctance, due to 
the solidarity of human institutions, is that any innova- 
tion calls for a greater expenditure of nervous energy 
in making the necessary readjustment than would other- 
wise be the case. It is not only that a change in estab- 
lished habits of thought is distasteful. The process of 
readjustment of the accepted theory of life involves a 
degree of mental effort a more or less protracted and 
laborious effort to find and to keep one's bearings under 
the altered circumstances. This process requires a cer- 
tain expenditure of energy, and so presumes, for its sue- 

2O4 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

cessful accomplishment, some surplus of energy beyond 
that absorbed in the daily struggle for subsistence. 
Consequently it follows that progress is hindered by 
underfeeding and excessive physical hardship, no less 
effectually than by such a luxurious life as will shut 
out discontent by cutting off the occasion for it. The 
abjectly poor, and all those persons whose energies are 
entirely absorbed by the struggle for daily sustenance, 
are conservative because they cannot afford the effort 
of taking thought for the day after to-morrow ; just as 
the highly prosperous are conservative because they 
have small occasion to be discontented with the situa- 
tion as it stands to-day. 

From this proposition it follows that the institution of 
a leisure class acts to make the lower classes conserva- 
tive by withdrawing from them as much as it may of the 
means of sustenance, and so reducing their consumption, 
and consequently their available energy, to such a point 
as to make them incapable of the effort required for the 
learning and adoption of new habits of thought. The 
accumulation of wealth at the upper end of the pecuni- 
ary scale implies privation at the lower end of the scale. 
It is a commonplace that, wherever it occurs, a consid- 
erable degree of privation among the body of the people 
is a serious obstacle to any innovation. 

This direct inhibitory effect of the unequal distribu- 
tion of wealth is seconded by an indirect effect tend- 
ing to the same result. As has already been seen, 
the imperative example set by the upper class in fixing 
the canons of reputability fosters the practice of con- 
spicuous consumption. The prevalence of conspicuous 

Industrial Exemption and Conservatism 205 

consumption as one of the main elements in the stan- 
dard of decency among all classes is of course not trace- 
able wholly to the example of the wealthy leisure class, 
but the practice and the insistence on it are no doubt 
strengthened by the example of the leisure class. The 
requirements of decency in this matter are very con- 
siderable and very imperative ; so that even among 
classes whose pecuniary position is sufficiently strong 
to admit a consumption of goods considerably in excess 
of the subsistence minimum, the disposable surplus left 
over after the more imperative physical needs are satis- 
fied is not infrequently diverted to the purpose of a con- 
spicuous decency, rather than to added physical comfort 
and fulness of life. Moreover, such surplus energy as 
is available is also likely to be expended in the acquisi- 
tion of goods for conspicuous consumption or conspicu- 
ous hoarding. The result is that the requirements of 
pecuniary reputability tend (i) to leave but a scanty 
subsistence minimum available for other than conspicu- 
ous consumption, and (2) to absorb any surplus energy 
which may be available after the bare physical necessi- 
ties of life have been provided for. The outcome of the 
whole is a strengthening of the general conservative 
attitude of the community. The institution of a leisure 
class hinders cultural development immediately (i) by 
the inertia proper to the class itself, (2) through its 
prescriptive example of conspicuous waste and of con- 
servatism, and (3) indirectly through that system of 
unequal distribution of wealth and sustenance on which 
the institution itself rests. 

To this is to be added that the leisure class has also 

2o6 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

a material interest in leaving things as they are. Under 
the circumstances prevailing at any given time this class 
is in a privileged position, and any departure from the 
existing order may be expected to work to the detriment 
of the class rather than the reverse. The attitude of 
the class, simply as influenced by its class interest, 
should therefore be to let well-enough alone. This 
interested motive comes in to supplement the strong 
instinctive bias of the class, and so to render it even 
more consistently conservative than it otherwise would 

All this, of course, has nothing to say in the way of 
eulogy or deprecation of the office of the leisure class 
as an exponent and vehicle of conservatism or reversion 
in social structure. The inhibition which it exercises 
may be salutary or the reverse. Whether it is the one 
or the other in any given case is a question of casuistry 
rather than of general theory. There may be truth in the 
view (as a question of policy) so often expressed by the 
spokesmen of the conservative element, that without 
some such substantial and consistent resistance to in- 
novation as is offered by the conservative well-to-do 
classes, social innovation and experiment would hurry 
the community into untenable and intolerable situa- 
tions ; the only possible result of which would be dis- 
content and disastrous reaction. All this, however, is 
beside the present argument. 

But apart from all deprecation, and aside from all 
question as to the indispensability of some such check 
on headlong innovation, the leisure class, in the nature 
of things, consistently acts to retard that adjustment to 

Industrial Exemption and Conservatism 207 

the environment which is called social advance or de- 
velopment. The characteristic attitude of the class 
may be summed up in the maxim : " Whatever is, is 
right " ; whereas the law of natural selection, as applied 
to human institutions, gives the axiom : " Whatever is, 
is wrong." Not that the institutions of to-day are 
wholly wrong for the purposes of the life of to-day, 
but they are, always and in the nature of things, wrong 
to some extent. They are the result of a more or less 
inadequate adjustment of the methods of living to a 
situation which prevailed at some point in the past 
development ; and they are therefore wrong by some- 
thing more than the interval which separates the pres- 
ent situation from that of the past. "Right" and 
"wrong" are of course here used without conveying 
any reflection as to what ought or ought not to be. 
They are applied simply from the (morally colourless) 
evolutionary standpoint, and are intended to designate 
compatibility or incompatibility with the effective 
evolutionary process. The institution of a leisure class, 
by force of class interest and instinct, and by precept 
and prescriptive example, makes for the perpetuation 
of the existing maladjustment of institutions, and even 
favours a reversion to a somewhat more archaic scheme 
of life ; a scheme which would be still farther out of 
adjustment with the exigencies of life under the ex- 
isting situation even than the accredited, obsolescent 
scheme that has come down from the immediate 

But after all has been said on the head of conserva- 
tion of the good old ways, it remains true that institu- 

208 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

tions change and develop. There is a cumulative 
growth of customs and habits of thought ; a selective 
adaptation of conventions and methods of life. Some- 
thing is to be said of the office of the leisure class in 
guiding this growth as well as in retarding it ; but little 
can be said here of its relation to institutional growth 
except as it touches the institutions that are primarily 
and immediately of an economic character. These 
institutions the economic structure may be roughly 
distinguished into two classes or categories, according 
as they serve one or the other of two divergent pur- 
poses of economic life. 

To adapt the classical terminology, they are institu- 
tions of acquisition or of production ; or to revert to 
terms already employed in a different connection in 
earlier chapters, they are pecuniary or industrial insti- 
tutions ; or in still other terms, they are institutions 
serving either the invidious or the non-invidious eco- 
nomic interest. The former category have to do with 
"business," the latter with industry, taking the latter 
word in "the mechanical sense. The latter class are not 
often recognised as institutions, in great part because 
they do not immediately concern the ruling class, and 
are, therefore, seldom the subject of legislation or of 
deliberate convention. When they do receive attention 
they are commonly approached from the pecuniary or 
business side ; that being the side or phase of economic 
life that chiefly occupies men's deliberations in our 
time, especially the deliberations of the upper classes. 
These classes have little else than a business interest in 
things economic, and on them at the same time it is 

Industrial Exemption and Conservatism 209 

chiefly incumbent to deliberate upon the community's 

The relation of the leisure (that is, propertied non- 
industrial) class to the economic process is a pecuniary 
relation a relation of acquisition, not of production; 
of exploitation, not of serviceability. Indirectly their 
economic office may, of course, be of the utmost impor- 
tance to the economic life process ; and it is by no means 
here intended to depreciate the economic function of the 
propertied class or of the captains of industry. The pur- 
pose is simply to point out what is the nature of the 
relation of these classes to the industrial process and 
to economic institutions. Their office is of a parasitic 
character, and their interest is to divert what substance 
they may to their own use, and to retain whatever is 
under their hand. The conventions of the business 
world have grown up under the selective surveillance 
of this principle of predation or parasitism. They are 
conventions of ownership ; derivatives, more or less 
remote, of the ancient predatory culture. But these 
pecuniary institutions do not entirely fit the situation 
of to-day, for they have grown up under a past situation 
differing somewhat from the present. Even for effec- 
tiveness in the pecuniary way, therefore, they are not as 
apt as might be. The changed industrial life requires 
changed methods of acquisition ; and the pecuniary 
classes have some interest in so adapting the pecuniary 
institutions as to give them the best effect for acquisi- 
tion of private gain that is compatible with the continu- 
ance of the industrial process out of which this gain 
arises. Hence there is a more or less consistent trend 

2io The Theory of the Leisure Class 

in the leisure-class guidance of institutional growth, an- 
swering to the pecuniary ends which shape leisure-class 
economic life. 

The effect of the pecuniary interest and the pecuniary 
habit of mind upon the growth of institutions is seen 
in those enactments and conventions that make for 
security of property, enforcement of contracts, facility 
of pecuniary transactions, vested interests. Of such 
bearing are changes affecting bankruptcy and receiver- 
ships, limited liability, banking and currency, coalitions 
of labourers or employers, trusts and pools. The com- 
munity's institutional furniture of this kind is of imme- 
diate consequence only to the propertied classes, and in 
proportion as they are propertied ; that is to say, in 
proportion as they are to be ranked with the leisure 
class. But indirectly these conventions of business 
life are of the gravest consequence for the industrial 
process and for the life of the community. And in 
guiding the institutional growth in this respect, the 
pecuniary classes, therefore, serve a purpose of the 
most serious importance to the community, not only in 
the conservation of the accepted social scheme, but also 
in shaping the industrial process proper. 

The immediate end of this pecuniary institutional 
structure and of its amelioration is the greater facility 
of peaceable and orderly exploitation ; but its remoter 
effects far outrun this immediate object. Not only does 
the more facile conduct of business permit industry and 
extra-industrial life to go on with less perturbation ; but 
the resulting elimination of disturbances and complica- 
tions calling for an exercise of astute discrimination in 

Industrial Exemption and Conservatism 211 

everyday affairs acts to make the pecuniary class itself 
superfluous. As fast as pecuniary transactions are re- 
duced to routine, the captain of industry can be dis- 
pensed with. This consummation, it is needless to say, 
lies yet in the indefinite future. The ameliorations 
wrought in favour of the pecuniary interest in modern 
institutions tend, in another field, to substitute the 
"soulless" joint-stock corporation for the captain, and 
so they make also for the dispensability of the great 
leisure-class function of ownership. Indirectly, there- 
fore, the bent given to the growth of economic institu- 
tions by the leisure-class influence is of very considerable 
industrial consequence. 


THE institution of a leisure class has an effect not 
only upon social structure but also upon the individual 
character of the members of society. So soon as a 
given proclivity or a given point of view has won ac- 
ceptance as an authoritative standard or norm of life it 
will react upon the character of the members of the 
society which has accepted it as a norm. It will to 
some extent shape their habits of thought and will ex- 
ercise a selective surveillance over the development 
of men's aptitudes and inclinations. This effect is 
wrought partly by a coercive, educational adaptation 
of the habits of all individuals, partly by a selective 
elimination of the unfit individuals and lines of descent. 
Such human material as does not lend itself to the 
methods of life imposed by the accepted scheme suffers 
more or less elimination as well as repression. The 
principles of pecuniary emulation and of industrial ex- 
emption have in this way been erected into canons of 
life, and have become coercive factors of some impor- 
tance in the situation to which men have to adapt them- 

These two broad principles of conspicuous waste and 
industrial exemption affect the cultural development 


Conservation of Archaic Traits 213 

both by guiding men's habits of thought, and so con- 
trolling the growth of institutions, and by selectively 
conserving certain traits of human nature that conduce 
to facility of life under the leisure-class scheme, and so 
controlling the effective temper of the community. 
The proximate tendency of the institution of a leisure 
class in shaping human character runs in the direction 
of spiritual survival and reversion. Its effect upon the 
temper of a community is of the nature of an arrested 
spiritual development. In the later culture especially, 
the institution has, on the whole, a conservative trend. 
This proposition is familiar enough in substance, but it 
may to many have the appearance of novelty in its 
present application. Therefore a summary review of 
its logical grounds may not be uncalled for, even at the 
risk of some tedious repetition and formulation of com- 

Social evolution is a process of selective adaptation of 
temperament and habits of thought under the stress 
of the circumstances of associated life. The adaptation 
of habits of thought is the growth of institutions. But 
along with the growth of institutions has gone a change 
of a more substantial character. Not only have the 
habits of men changed with the changing exigencies of 
the situation, but these changing exigencies have also 
brought about a correlative change in human nature. 
The human material of society itself varies with the 
changing conditions of life. This variation of human 
nature is held by the later ethnologists to be a process 
of selection between several relatively stable and per- 
sistent ethnic types or ethnic elements. Men tend to 

214 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

revert or to breed true, more or less closely, to one or 
another of certain types of human nature that have in 
their main features been fixed in approximate conform- 
ity to a situation in the past which differed from the 
situation of to-day. There are several of these rela- 
tively 'stable ethnic types of mankind comprised in the 
populations of the Western culture. These ethnic 
types survive in the race inheritance to-day, not as 
rigid and invariable moulds, each of a single precise and 
specific pattern, but in the form of a greater or smaller 
number of variants. Some variation of the ethnic 
types has resulted under the protracted selective pro- 
cess to which the several types and their hybrids have 
been subjected during the prehistoric and historic 
growth of culture. 

This necessary variation of the types themselves, due 
to a selective process of considerable duration and of a 
consistent trend, has not been sufficiently noticed by 
the writers who have discussed ethnic survival. The 
argument is here concerned with two main divergent 
variants of human nature resulting from this, relatively 
late, selective adaptation of the ethnic types comprised 
in the Western culture ; the point of interest being the 
probable effect of the situation of to-day in furthering 
variation along one or the other of these two divergent 

The ethnological position may be briefly summed up ; 
and in order to avoid any but the most indispensable 
detail the schedule of types and variants and the scheme 
of reversion and survival in which they are concerned 
are here presented with a diagrammatic meagreness and 

The Conservation of Archaic Traits 215 

simplicity which would not be admissible for any other 
purpose. The man of our industrial communities tends 
to breed true to one or the other of three main ethnic 
types : the dolichocephalic-blond, the brachycephalic- 
brunette, and the Mediterranean disregarding minor 
and outlying elements of our culture. But within each 
of these main ethnic types the reversion tends to one 
or the other of at least two main directions of varia- 
tion ; the peaceable or ante-predatory variant and the 
predatory variant. The former of these two character- 
istic variants is nearer to the generic type in each case, 
being the reversional representative of its type as it 
stood at the earliest stage of associated life of which 
there is available evidence, either archaeological or psy- 
chological. This variant is taken to represent the ances- 
tors of existing civilised man at the peaceable, savage 
phase of life which preceded the predatory culture, the 
regime of status, and the growth of pecuniary emulation. 
The second or predatory variant of the types is taken to 
be a survival of a more recent modification of the main 
ethnic types and their hybrids, of these types as they 
were modified, mainly by a selective adaptation, under 
the discipline of the predatory culture and the later 
emulative culture of the quasi-peaceable stage, or the 
pecuniary culture proper. 

Under the recognised laws of heredity there may be 
a survival from a more or less remote past phase. In 
the ordinary, average, or normal case, if the type has 
varied, the traits of the type are transmitted approxi- 
mately as they have stood in the recent past which 
may be called the hereditary present. For the purpose 

216 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

in hand this hereditary present is represented by the 
later predatory and the quasi-peaceable culture. 

It is to the variant of human nature which is charac- 
teristic of this recent hereditarily still existing 
predatory or quasi-predatory culture that the modern 
civilised man tends to breed true in the common run 
of cases. This proposition requires some qualification 
so far as concerns the descendants of the servile or re- 
pressed classes of barbarian times, but the qualification 
necessary is probably not so great as might at first 
thought appear. Taking the population as a whole, this 
predatory, emulative variant does not seem to have at- 
tained a high degree of consistency or stability. That 
is to say, the human nature inherited by modern Occi- 
dental man is not nearly uniform in respect of the range 
or the relative strength of the various aptitudes and 
propensities which go to make it up. The man of the 
hereditary present is slightly archaic as judged for the 
purposes of the latest exigencies of associated life. And 
the type to which the modern man chiefly tends to re- 
vert under the law of variation is a somewhat more archaic 
human nature. On the other hand, to judge by the 
reversional traits which show themselves in individuals 
that vary from the prevailing predatory style of tem- 
perament, the ante-predatory variant seems to have a 
greater stability and greater symmetry in the distribu- 
tion or relative force of its temperamental elements. 

This divergence of inherited human nature, as between 
an earlier and a later variant of the ethnic type to which 
the individual tends to breed true, is traversed and ob- 
scured by a similar divergence between the two or three 

The Conservation of Archaic Traits 217 

main ethnic types that go to make up the Occidental 
populations. The individuals in these communities are 
conceived to be, in virtually every instance, hybrids of 
the prevailing ethnic elements combined in the most 
varied proportions ; with the result that they tend to 
take back to one or the other of the component ethnic 
types. These ethnic types differ in temperament in a 
way somewhat similar to the difference between the 
predatory and the ante-predatory variants of the types ; 
the dolicho-blond type showing more of the character- 
istics of the predatory temperament or at least more 
of the violent disposition than the brachycephalic- 
brunette type, and especially more than the Mediter- 
ranean. When the growth of institutions or of the 
effective sentiment of a given community shows a diver- 
gence from the predatory human nature, therefore, it is 
impossible to say with certainty that such a divergence 
indicates a reversion to the ante-predatory variant. It 
may be due to an increasing dominance of the one or 
the other of the "lower" ethnic elements in the popula- 
tion. Still, although the evidence is not as conclusive 
as might be desired, there are indications that the varia- 
tions in the effective temperament of modern communi- 
ties is not altogether due to a selection between stable 
ethnic types. It seems to be to some appreciable extent 
a selection between the predatory and the peaceable 
variants of the several types. 

This conception of contemporary human evolution is 
not indispensable to the discussion. The general con- 
clusions reached by the use of these concepts of selec- 
tive adaptation would remain substantially true if the 

218 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

earlier, Darwinian and Spencerian, terms and concepts 
were substituted. Under the circumstances, some lati- 
tude may be admissible in the use of terms. The word 
" type " is used loosely, to denote variations of tempera- 
ment which the ethnologists would perhaps recognise 
only as trivial variants of the type rather than as dis- 
tinct ethnic types. Wherever a closer discrimination 
seems essential to the argument, the effort to make 
such a closer discrimination will be evident from the 

The ethnic types of to-day, then, are variants of the 
primitive racial types. They have suffered some altera- 
tion, and have attained some degree of fixity in their 
altered form, under the discipline of the barbarian cul- 
ture. The man of the hereditary present is the bar- 
barian variant, servile or aristocratic, of the ethnic 
elements that constitute him. But this barbarian vari- 
ant has not attained the highest degree of homogeneity 
or of stability. The barbarian culture the predatory 
and quasi-peaceable cultural stages though of great 
absolute duration, has been neither protracted enough 
nor invariable enough in character to give an extreme 
fixity of type. Variations from the barbarian human 
nature occur with some frequency, and these cases of 
variation are becoming more noticeable to-day, because 
the conditions of modern life no longer act consistently 
to repress departures from the barbarian normal. The 
predatory temperament does not lend itself to all the 
purposes of modern life, and more especially not to 
modern industry. 

Departures from the human nature of the hereditary 

The Conservation of Archaic Traits 219 

present are most frequently of the nature of reversions 
to an earlier variant of the type. This earlier variant 
is represented by the temperament which characterises 
the primitive phase of peaceable savagery. The circum- 
stances of life and the ends of effort that prevailed 
before the advent of the barbarian culture, shaped 
human nature and fixed it as regards certain funda- 
mental traits. And it is to these ancient, generic 
features that modern men are prone to take back in 
case of variation from the human nature of the heredi- 
tary present. The conditions under which men lived 
in the most primitive stages of associated life that can 
properly be called human, seem to have been of a 
peaceful kind; and the character the temperament 
and spiritual attitude of men under these early con- 
ditions of environment and institutions seems to have 
been of a peaceful and unaggressive, not to say an 
indolent, cast. For the immediate purpose this peace- 
able cultural stage may be taken to mark the initial 
phase of social development. So far as concerns the 
present argument, the dominant spiritual feature of this 
presumptive initial phase of culture seems to have been 
an unreflecting, unformulated sense of group solidarity, 
largely expressing itself in a complacent, but by no 
means strenuous, sympathy with all facility of human 
life, and an uneasy revulsion against apprehended inhi- 
bition or futility of life. Through its ubiquitous pres- 
ence in the habits of thought of the ante-predatory 
savage man, this pervading but uneager sense of the 
generically useful seems to have exercised an appre- 
ciable constraining force upon his life and upon the 

22O The Theory of the Leisure Class 

manner of his habitual contact with other members of 
the group. 

The traces of this initial, undifferentiated peaceable 
phase of culture seem faint and doubtful if we look 
merely to such categorical evidence of its existence as 
is afforded by usages and views in vogue within the 
historical present, whether in civilised or in rude com- 
munities ; but less dubious evidence of its existence is 
to be found in psychological survivals, in the way of 
persistent and pervading traits of human character. 
These traits survive perhaps in an especial degree 
among those ethnic elements which were crowded into 
the background during the predatory culture. Traits 
that were suited to the earlier habits of life then 
became relatively useless in the individual struggle for 
existence. And those elements of the population, or 
those ethnic groups, which v/ere by temperament less 
fitted to the predatory life were repressed and pushed 
into the background. 

On the transition to the predatory culture the char- 
acter of the struggle for existence changed in some 
degree from a struggle of the group against a non- 
human environment to a struggle against a human 
environment. This change was accompanied by an 
increasing antagonism and consciousness of antagonism 
between the individual members of the group. The 
conditions of success within the group, as well as the 
conditions of the survival of the group, changed in 
some measure ; and the dominant spiritual attitude of 
the group gradually changed, and brought a different 
range of aptitudes and propensities into the position of 

The Conservation of Archaic Traits 221 

legitimate dominance in the accepted scheme of life. 
Among these archaic traits that are to be regarded as 
survivals from the peaceable cultural phase, are that 
instinct of race solidarity which we call conscience, 
including the sense of truthfulness and equity, and the 
instinct of workmanship, in its naive, non-invidious 

Under the guidance of the later biological and psy- 
chological science, human nature will have to be re- 
stated in terms of habit ; and in the restatement, this, 
in outline, appears to be the only assignable place and 
ground of these traits. These habits of life are of too 
pervading a character to be ascribed to the influence of 
a late or brief discipline. The ease with which they 
are temporarily overborne by the special exigencies of 
recent and modern life argues that these habits are the 
surviving effects of a discipline of extremely ancient 
date, from the teachings of which men have frequently 
been constrained to depart in detail under the altered 
circumstances of a later time ; and the almost ubiqui- 
tous fashion in which they assert themselves whenever 
the pressure of special exigencies is relieved, argues 
that the process by which the traits were fixed and 
incorporated into the spiritual make-up of the type 
must have lasted for a relatively very long time and 
without serious intermission. The point is not seriously 
affected by any question as to whether it was a process 
of habituation in the old-fashioned sense of the word 
or a process of selective adaptation of the race. 

The character and exigencies of life, under that 
regime of status and of individual and class antithesis 

222 The Theory of the Leistire Class 

which covers the entire interval from the beginning of 
predatory culture to the present, argue that the traits 
of temperament here under discussion could scarcely 
have arisen and acquired fixity during that interval. 
It is entirely probable that these traits have come 
down from an earlier method of life, and have survived 
through the interval of predatory and quasi-peaceable 
culture in a condition of incipient, or at least imminent, 
desuetude, rather than that they have been brought out 
and fixed by this later culture. They appear to be 
hereditary characteristics of the race, and to have per- 
sisted in spite of the altered requirements of success 
under the predatory and the later pecuniary stages of 
culture. They seem to have persisted by force of the 
tenacity of transmission that belongs to an hereditary 
trait that is present in some degree in every member 
of the species, and which therefore rests on a broad 
basis of race continuity. 

Such a generic feature is not readily eliminated, even 
under a process of selection so severe and protracted as 
that to which the traits here under discussion were sub- 
jected during the predatory and quasi-peaceable stages. 
These peaceable traits are in great part alien to the 
methods and the animus of barbarian life. The salient 
characteristic of the barbarian culture is an unremitting 
emulation and antagonism between classes and between 
individuals. This emulative discipline favours those in- 
dividuals and lines of descent which possess the peace- 
able savage traits in a relatively slight degree. It 
therefore tends to eliminate these traits, and it has 
apparently weakened them, in an appreciable degree, 

The Conservation of Archaic Traits 223 

in the populations that have been subject to it. Even 
where the extreme penalty for non-conformity to the 
barbarian type of temperament is not paid, there results 
at least a more or less consistent repression of the non- 
conforming individuals and lines of descent. Where 
life is largely a struggle between individuals within the 
group, the possession of the ancient peaceable traits in 
a marked degree would hamper an individual in the 
struggle for life. 

Under any known phase of culture, other or later 
than the presumptive initial phase here spoken of, the 
gifts of good-nature, equity, and indiscriminate sym- 
pathy do not appreciably further the life of the indi- 
vidual. Their possession may serve to protect the 
individual from hard usage at the hands of a majority 
that insists on a modicum of these ingredients in their 
ideal of a normal man ; but apart from their indirect 
and negative effect in this way, the individual fares 
better under the regime of competition in proportion 
as he has less of these gifts. Freedom from scruple, 
from sympathy, honesty and regard for life, may, within 
fairly wide limits, be said to further the success of the 
individual in the pecuniary culture. The highly suc- 
cessful men of all times have commonly been of this 
type ; except those whose success has not been scored 
in terms of either wealth or power. It is only within 
narrow limits, and then only in a Pickwickian sense, 
that honesty is the best policy. 

As seen from the point of view of life under modern 
civilised conditions in an enlightened community of the 
Western culture, the primitive, ante-predatory savage, 

224 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

whose character it has been attempted to trace in 
outline above, was not a great success. Even for the 
purposes of that hypothetical culture to which his type 
of human nature owes what stability it has even for 
the ends of the peaceable savage group this primitive 
man has quite as many and as conspicuous economic 
failings as he has economic virtues, as should be plain 
to any one whose sense of the case is not biassed by 
leniency born of a fellow-feeling. At his best he is " a 
clever, good-for-nothing fellow." The shortcomings of 
this presumptively primitive type of character are weak- 
ness, inefficiency, lack of initiative and ingenuity, and 
a yielding and indolent amiability, together with a lively 
but inconsequential animistic sense. Along with these 
traits go certain others which have some value for the 
collective life process, in the sense that they further the 
facility of life in the group. These traits are truthful- 
ness, peaceableness, good-will, and a non-emulative, non- 
invidious interest in men and things. 

With the advent of the predatory stage of life there 
comes a change in the requirements of the successful 
human character. Men's habits of life are required to 
adapt themselves to new exigencies under a new scheme 
of human relations. The same unfolding of energy, 
which had previously found expression in the traits of 
savage life recited above, is now required to find ex- 
pression along a new line of action, in a new group of 
habitual responses to altered stimuli. The methods 
which, as counted in terms of facility of life, answered 
measurably under the earlier conditions, are no longer 
adequate under the new conditions. The earlier situa- 

The Conservation of Archaic Traits 22$ 

tion was characterised by a relative absence of antago- 
nism or differentiation of interests, the later situation 
by an emulation constantly increasing in intensity and 
narrowing in scope. The traits which characterise the 
predatory and subsequent stages of culture, and which 
indicate the types of man best fitted to survive under 
the regime of status, are (in their primary expression) 
ferocity, self-seeking, clannishness, and disingenuous- 
ness a free resort to force and fraud. 

Under the severe and protracted discipline of the 
regime of competition, the selection of ethnic types has 
acted to give a somewhat pronounced dominance to 
these traits of character, by favouring the survival of 
those ethnic elements which are most richly endowed 
in these respects. At the same time the earlier- 
acquired, more generic habits of the race have never 
ceased to have some usefulness for the purposes of the 
life of the collectivity and have never fallen into defini- 
tive abeyance. 

It may be worth while to point out that the dolicho- 
blond type of European man seems to owe much of its 
dominating influence and its masterful position in the 
recent culture to its possessing the characteristics of 
predatory man in an exceptional degree. These spirit- 
ual traits, together with a large endowment of physical 
energy, itself probably a result of selection between 
groups and between lines of descent, chiefly go to 
place any ethnic element in the position of a leisure 
or master class, especially during the earlier phases of 
the development of the institution of a leisure class. 
This need not mean that precisely the same comple- 

226 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

ment of aptitudes in any individual would insure him 
an eminent personal success. Under the competitive 
regime, the conditions of success for the individual are 
not necessarily the same as those for a class. The 
success of a class or party presumes a strong element 
of clannishness, or loyalty to a chief, or adherence to 
a tenet ; whereas the competitive individual can best 
achieve his ends if he combines the barbarian's energy, 
initiative, self-seeking and disingenuousness with the 
savage's lack of loyalty or clannishness. It may be 
remarked by the way, that the men who have scored 
a brilliant (Napoleonic) success on the basis of an 
impartial self-seeking and absence of scruple, have not 
uncommonly shown more of the physical characteris- 
tics of the brachycephalic-brunette than of the dolicho- 
blond. The greater proportion of moderately success- 
ful individuals, in a self-seeking way, however, seem, 
in physique, to belong to the last-named ethnic ele- 

The temperament induced by the predatory habit of 
life makes for the survival and fulness of life of the 
individual under a regime of emulation ; at the same 
time it makes for the survival and success of the group 
if the group's life as a collectivity is also predominantly 
a life of hostile competition with other groups. But the 
evolution of economic life in the industrially more 
mature communities has now begun to take such a 
turn that the interest of the community no longer coin- 
cides with the emulative interests of the individual. 
In their corporate capacity, these advanced industrial 
communities are ceasing to be competitors for the 

The Conservation of Archaic Traits 227 

means of life or for the right to live except in so far 
as the predatory propensities of their ruling classes 
keep up the tradition of war and rapine. These com- 
munities are no longer hostile to one another by force 
of circumstances, other than the circumstances of tradi- 
tion and temperament. Their material interests apart, 
possibly, from the interests of the collective good fame 
are not only no longer incompatible, but the suc- 
cess of any one of the communities unquestionably 
furthers the fulness of life of any other community in 
the group, for the present and for an incalculable time 
to come. No one of them any longer has any material 
interest in getting the better of any other. The same 
is not true in the same degree as regards individuals 
and their relations to one another. 

The collective interests of any modern community 
centre in industrial efficiency. The individual is ser- 
viceable for the ends of the community somewhat in 
proportion to his efficiency in the productive employ- 
ments, vulgarly so called. This collective interest is 
best served by honesty, diligence, peacefulness, good- 
will, an absence of self-seeking, and an habitual recog- 
nition and apprehension of causal sequence, without 
admixture of animistic belief and without a sense of 
dependence on any preternatural intervention in the 
course of events. Not much is to be said for the 
beauty, moral excellence, or general worthiness and 
reputability of such a prosy human nature as these 
traits imply ; and there is little ground of enthusiasm 
for the manner of collective life that would result from 
the prevalence of these traits in unmitigated dominance. 

228 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

But that is beside the point. The successful working 
of a modern industrial community is best secured 
where these traits concur, and it is attained in the 
degree in which the human material is characterised by 
their possession. Their presence in some measure is 
required in order to a tolerable adjustment to the cir- 
cumstances of the modern industrial situation. The 
complex, comprehensive, essentially peaceable, and 
highly organised mechanism of the modern indus- 
trial community works to the best advantage when 
these traits, or most of them, are present in the high- 
est practicable degree. These traits are present in a 
markedly less degree in the man of the predatory type 
than is useful for the purposes of the modern collective 

On the other hand, the immediate interest of the 
individual under the competitive regime is best served 
by shrewd trading and unscrupulous management. The 
characteristics named above as serving the interests 
of the community are disserviceable to the individual, 
rather than otherwise. The presence of these aptitudes 
in his make-up diverts his energies to other ends than 
those of pecuniary gain ; and also in his pursuit of gain 
they lead him to seek gain by the indirect and ineffect- 
ual channels of industry, rather than by a free and 
unfaltering career of sharp practice. The industrial 
aptitudes are pretty consistently a hindrance to the 
individual. Under the regime of emulation the mem- 
bers of a modern industrial community are rivals, each 
of whom will best attain his individual and immediate 
advantage if, through an exceptional exemption from 

The Conservation of Archaic Traits 229 

scruple, he is able serenely to overreach and injure his 
fellows when the chance offers. 

It has already been noticed that modern economic 
institutions fall into two roughly distinct categories, 
the pecuniary and the industrial. The like is true of 
employments. Under the former head are employments 
that have to do with ownership or acquisition; under 
the latter head, those that have to do with workmanship 
or production. As was found in speaking of the growth 
of institutions, so with regard to employments. The 
economic interests of the leisure class lie in the pecuni- 
ary employments; those of the working classes lie in 
both classes of employments, but chiefly in the indus- 
trial. Entrance to the leisure class lies through the 
pecuniary employments. 

These two classes of employments differ materially 
in respect of the aptitudes required for each ; and the 
training which they give similarly follows two divergent 
lines. The discipline of the pecuniary employments 
acts to conserve and to cultivate certain of the predatory 
aptitudes and the predatory animus. It does this both 
by educating those individuals and classes who are 
occupied with these employments and by selectively 
repressing and eliminating those individuals and lines 
of descent that are unfit in this respect. So far as 
men's habits of thought are shaped by the competitive 
process of acquisition and tenure; so far as their eco- 
nomic functions are comprised within the range of 
ownership of wealth as conceived in terms of exchange 
value, and its management and financiering through 
a permutation of values; so far their experience in 

230 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

economic life favours the survival and accentuation 
of the predatory temperament and habits of thought. 
Under the modern, peaceable system, it is of course 
the peaceable range of predatory habits and aptitudes 
that is chiefly fostered by a life of acquisition. That is 
to say, the pecuniary employments give proficiency in 
the general line of practices comprised under fraud, 
rather than in those that belong under the more archaic 
method of forcible seizure. 

These pecuniary employments, tending to conserve 
the predatory temperament, are the employments which 
have to do with ownership the immediate function of 
the leisure class proper and the subsidiary functions 
concerned with acquisition and accumulation. These 
cover that class of persons and that range of duties in 
the economic process which have to do with the owner- 
ship of enterprises engaged in competitive industry; 
especially those fundamental lines of economic man- 
agement which are classed as financiering operations. 
To these may be added the greater part of mercantile 
occupations. In their best and clearest development 
these duties make up the economic office of the "cap- 
tain of industry." The captain of industry is an astute 
man rather than an ingenious one, and his captaincy is 
a pecuniary rather than an industrial captaincy. Such 
administration of industry as he exercises is commonly 
of a permissive kind. The mechanically effective de- 
tails of production and of industrial organisation are 
delegated to subordinates of a less " practical " turn of 
mind, men who are possessed of a gift for workmanship 
rather than administrative ability. So far as regards 

The Conservation of Archaic Traits 231 

their tendency in shaping human nature by education 
and selection, the common run of non-economic employ- 
ments are to be classed with the pecuniary employ- 
ments. Such are politics and ecclesiastical and military 

The pecuniary employments have also the sanction 
of reputability in a much higher degree than the indus- 
trial employments. In this way the leisure-class stand- 
ards of good repute come in to sustain the prestige of 
those aptitudes that serve the invidious purpose ; and 
the leisure-class scheme of decorous living, therefore, 
also furthers the survival and culture of the predatory 
traits. Employments fall into a hierarchical gradation 
of reputability. Those which have to do immediately 
with ownership on a large scale are the most reputable 
of economic employments proper. Next to these in 
good repute come those employments that are immedi- 
ately subservient to ownership and financiering, such 
as banking and the law. Banking employments also 
carry a suggestion of large ownership, and this fact is 
doubtless accountable for a share of the prestige that 
attaches to the business. The profession of the law 
does not imply large ownership ; but since no taint of 
usefulness, for other than the competitive purpose, 
attaches to the lawyer's trade, it grades high in the 
conventional scheme. The lawyer is exclusively oc- 
cupied with the details of predatory fraud, either in 
achieving or in checkmating chicane, and success in the 
profession is therefore accepted as marking a large en- 
dowment of that barbarian astuteness which has always 
commanded men's respect and fear. Mercantile pur- 

232 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

suits are only half-way reputable, unless they involve a 
large element of ownership and a small element of use- 
fulness. They grade high or low somewhat in propor- 
tion as they serve the higher or the lower needs ; so 
that the business of retailing the vulgar necessaries of 
life descends to the level of the handicrafts and factory 
labour. Manual labour, or even the work of directing 
mechanical processes, is of course on a precarious foot- 
ing as regards respectability. 

A qualification is necessary as regards the discipline 
given by the pecuniary employments. As the scale of 
industrial enterprise grows larger, pecuniary manage- 
ment comes to bear less of the character of chicane and 
shrewd competition in detail. That is to say, for an 
ever-increasing proportion of the persons who come in 
contact with this phase of economic life, business 
reduces itself to a routine in which there is less imme- 
diate suggestion of overreaching or exploiting a com- 
petitor. The consequent exemption from predatory 
habits extends chiefly to subordinates employed in 
business. The duties of ownership and administration 
are virtually untouched by this qualification. 

The case is different as regards those individuals or 
classes who are immediately occupied with the technique 
and manual operations of production. Their daily life 
is not in the same degree a course of habituation to the 
emulative and invidious motives and manoeuvres of the 
pecuniary side of industry. They are consistently held 
to the apprehension and coordination of mechanical 
facts and sequences, and to their appreciation and 
utilisation for the purposes of human life. So far as 

The Conservation of Archaic Traits 233 

concerns this portion of the population, the educative 
and selective action of the industrial process with which 
they are immediately in contact acts to adapt their 
habits of thought to the non-invidious purposes of the 
collective life. For them, therefore, it hastens the 
obsolescence of the distinctively predatory aptitudes 
and propensities carried over by heredity and tradition 
from the barbarian past of the race. 

The educative action of the economic life of the com- 
munity, therefore, is not of a uniform kind throughout 
all its manifestations. That range of economic activi- 
ties which is concerned immediately with pecuniary 
competition has a tendency to conserve certain preda- 
tory traits ; while those industrial occupations which 
have to do immediately with the production of goods 
have in the main the contrary tendency. But with 
regard to the latter class of employments it is to be 
noticed in qualification that the persons engaged in 
them are nearly all to some extent also concerned with 
matters of pecuniary competition (as, for instance, in the 
competitive fixing of wa'ges and salaries, in the purchase 
of goods for consumption, etc.). Therefore the distinc- 
tion here made between classes of employments is by 
no means a hard and fast distinction between classes 
of persons. 

The employments of the leisure classes in modern 
industry are such as to keep alive certain of the preda- 
tory habits and aptitudes. So far as the members of 
those classes take part in the industrial process, their 
training tends to conserve in them the barbarian tem- 
perament. But there is something to be said on the 

234 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

other side. Individuals so placed as to be exempt from 
strain may survive and transmit their characteristics 
even if they differ widely from the average of the 
species both in physique and in spiritual make-up. The 
chances for a survival and transmission of atavistic traits 
are greatest in those classes that are most sheltered 
from the stress of circumstances. The leisure class is 
in some degree sheltered from the stress of the indus- 
trial situation, and should, therefore, afford an exception- 
ally great proportion of reversions to the peaceable or 
savage temperament. It should be possible for such 
aberrant or atavistic individuals to unfold their life activ- 
ity on ante-predatory lines without suffering as prompt a 
repression or elimination as in the lower walks of life. 

Something of the sort seems to be true in fact. There 
is, for instance, an appreciable proportion of the upper 
classes whose inclinations lead them into philanthropic 
work, and there is a considerable body of sentiment in 
the class going to support efforts of reform and amelio- 
ration. And much of this philanthropic and reforma- 
tory effort, moreover, bears the Vnarks of that amiable 
"cleverness" and incoherence that is characteristic of 
the primitive savage. But it may still be doubtful 
whether these facts are evidence of a larger proportion 
of reversions in the higher than in the lower strata. 
Even if the same inclinations were present in the im- 
pecunious classes, it would not as easily find expression 
there ; since those classes lack the means and the time 
and energy to give effect to their inclinations in this 
respect. The prima facie evidence of the facts can 
scarcely go unquestioned. 

The Conservation of Archaic Traits 235 

In further qualification it is to be noted that the 
leisure class of to-day is recruited from those who have 
been successful in a pecuniary way, and who, therefore, 
are presumably endowed with more than an even com- 
plement of the predatory traits. Entrance into the 
leisure class lies through the pecuniary employments, 
and these employments, by selection and adaptation, 
act to admit to the upper levels only those lines of 
descent that are pecuniarily fit to survive under the 
predatory test. And so soon as a case of reversion to 
non-predatory human nature shows itself on these 
upper levels, it is commonly weeded out and thrown 
back to the lower pecuniary levels. In order to hold 
its place in the class, a stock must have the pecuniary 
temperament ; otherwise its fortune would be dissipated 
and it would presently lose caste. Instances of this 
kind are sufficiently frequent. 

The constituency of the leisure class is kept up by a 
continual selective process, whereby the individuals and 
lines of descent that are eminently fitted for an aggres- 
sive pecuniary competition are withdrawn from the lower 
classes. In order to reach the upper levels the aspirant 
must have, not only a fair average complement of the 
pecuniary aptitudes, but he must have these gifts in 
such an eminent degree as to overcome very material 
difficulties that stand in the way of his ascent. Barring 
accidents, the nouveaux arrives are a picked body. 

This process of selective admission has, of course, 
always been going on ; ever since the fashion of pecuni- 
ary emulation set in, which is much the same as say- 
ing, ever since the institution of a leisure class was first 

236 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

installed. But the precise ground of selection has not 
always been the same, and the selective process has 
therefore not always given the same results. In the 
early barbarian, or predatory stage proper, the test of 
fitness was prowess, in the naive sense of the word. 
To gain entrance to the class, the candidate must be 
gifted with clannishness, massiveness, ferocity, unscru- 
pulousness, and tenacity of purpose. These were the 
qualities that counted toward the accumulation and con- 
tinued tenure of wealth. The economic basis of the 
leisure class, then as later, was the possession of wealth ; 
but the methods of accumulating wealth, and the gifts 
required for holding it, have changed in some degree 
since the early days of the predatory culture. In con- 
sequence of the selective process the dominant traits of 
the early barbarian leisure class were bold aggression, 
an alert sense of status, and a free resort to fraud. The 
members of the class held their place by tenure of prow- 
ess. In the later barbarian culture society attained 
settled methods of acquisition and possession under the 
quasi-peaceable regime of status. Simple aggression 
and unrestrained violence in great measure gave place 
to shrewd practise and chicanery, as the best approved 
method of accumulating wealth. A different range of 
aptitudes and propensities would then be conserved in 
the leisure class. Masterful aggression, and the correla- 
tive massiveness, together with a ruthlessly consistent 
sense of status, would still count among the most splen- 
did traits of the class. These have remained in our 
traditions as the typical "aristocratic virtues." But 
with these were associated an increasing complement 

The Conservation of Archaic Traits 237 

of the less obtrusive pecuniary virtues ; such as provi- 
dence, prudence, and chicane. As time has gone on, 
and the modern peaceable stage of pecuniary culture 
has been approached, the last-named range of aptitudes 
and habits has gained in relative effectiveness for pe- 
cuniary ends, and they have counted for relatively more 
in the selective process under which admission is gained 
and place is held in the leisure class. 

The ground of selection has changed, until the apti- 
tudes which now qualify for admission to the class are 
the pecuniary aptitudes only. What remains of the 
predatory barbarian traits is the tenacity of purpose or 
consistency of aim which distinguished the successful 
predatory barbarian from the peaceable savage whom he 
supplanted. But this trait can not be said characteris- 
tically to distinguish the pecuniarily successful upper- 
class man from the rank and file of the industrial 
classes. The training and the selection to which the 
latter are exposed in modern industrial life give a simi- 
larly decisive weight to this trait. Tenacity of purpose 
may rather be said to distinguish both these classes 
from two others : the shiftless ne'er-do-weel and the 
lower-class delinquent. In point of natural endowment 
the pecuniary man compares with the delinquent in 
much the same way as the industrial man compares with 
the good-natured shiftless dependent. The ideal pecuni- 
ary man is like the ideal delinquent in his unscrupu- 
lous conversion of goods and persons to his own ends, 
and in a callous disregard of the feelings and wishes of 
others and of the remoter effects of his actions ; but he 
is unlike him in possessing a keener sense of status, and 

238 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

in working more consistently and far-sightedly to a re- 
moter end. The kinship of the two types of tempera* 
ment is further shown in a proclivity to "sport" and 
gambling, and a relish of aimless emulation. The ideal 
pecuniary man also shows a curious kinship with the 
delinquent in one of the concomitant variations of the 
predatory human nature. The delinquent is very com- 
monly of a superstitious habit of mind ; he is a great 
believer in luck, spells, divination and destiny, and in 
omens and shamanistic ceremony. Where circum- 
stances are favourable, this proclivity is apt to express 
itself in a certain servile devotional fervour and a punc- 
tilious attention to devout observances ; it may perhaps 
be better characterised as devoutness than as religion. 
At this point the temperament of the delinquent has 
more in common with the pecuniary and leisure classes 
than with the industrial man or with the class of shift- 
less dependents. 

Life in a modern industrial community, or in other 
words life under the pecuniary culture, acts by a process 
of selection to develop and conserve a certain range of 
aptitudes and propensities. The present tendency of 
this selective process is not simply a reversion to a 
given, immutable ethnic type. It tends rather to a 
modification of human nature differing in some respects 
from any of the types or variants transmitted out of the 
past. The objective point of the evolution is not a 
single one. The temperament which the evolution acts 
to establish as normal differs from any one of the archaic 
variants of human nature in its greater stability of aim 
greater singleness of purpose and greater persistence 

The Conservation of Archaic Traits 239 

in effort. So far as concerns economic theory, the ob- 
jective point of the selective process is on the whole 
single to this extent ; although there are minor tenden- 
cies of considerable importance diverging from this line 
of development. But apart from this general trend the 
line of development is not single. As concerns eco- 
nomic theory, the development in other respects runs on 
two divergent lines. So far as regards the selective 
conservation of capacities or aptitudes in individuals, 
these two lines may be called the pecuniary and the 
industrial. As regards the conservation of propensities, 
spiritual attitude, or animus, the two may be called the 
invidious or self-regarding and the non-invidious or 
economical. As regards the intellectual or cognitive 
bent of the two directions of growth, the former may be 
characterised as the personal standpoint, of conation, 
qualitative relation, status, or worth ; the latter as the 
impersonal standpoint, of sequence, quantitative rela- 
tion, mechanical efficiency, or use. 

The pecuniary employments call into action chiefly 
the former of these two ranges of aptitudes and pro- 
pensities, and act selectively to conserve them in the 
population. The industrial employments, on the other 
hand, chiefly exercise the latter range, and act to con- 
serve them. An exhaustive psychological analysis will 
show that each of these two ranges of aptitudes and 
propensities is but the multiform expression of a given 
temperamental bent. By force of the unity or single- 
ness of the individual, the aptitudes, animus, and inter- 
ests comprised in the first-named range belong together 
as expressions of a given variant of human nature. The 

240 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

like is true of the latter range. The two may be con- 
ceived as alternative directions of human life, in such a 
way that a given individual inclines more or less con- 
sistently to the one or the other. The tendency of 
the pecuniary life is, in a general way, to conserve the 
barbarian temperament, but with the substitution of 
fraud and prudence, or administrative ability, in place 
of that predilection for physical damage that charac- 
terises the early barbarian. This substitution of chicane 
in place of devastation takes place only in an uncertain 
degree. Within the pecuniary employments the selec- 
tive action runs pretty consistently in this direction, but 
the discipline of pecuniary life, outside the competition 
for gain, does not work consistently to the same effect. 
The discipline of modern life in the consumption of 
time and goods does not act unequivocally to eliminate 
the aristocratic virtues or to foster the bourgeois virtues. 
The conventional scheme of decent living calls for a 
considerable exercise of the earlier barbarian traits. 
Some details of this traditional scheme of life, bearing 
on this point, have been noticed in earlier chapters 
under the head of Leisure, and further details will be 
shown in later chapters. 

From what has been said, it appears that the leisure- 
class life and the leisure-class scheme of life should 
further the conservation of the barbarian temperament ; 
chiefly of the quasi-peaceable, or bourgeois, variant, but 
also in some measure of the predatory variant. In the 
absence of disturbing factors, therefore, it should be 
possible to trace a difference of temperament between 
the classes of society. The aristocratic and the bour- 

The Conservation of Archaic Traits 241 

geois virtues that is to say the destructive and pecuni- 
ary traits should be found chiefly among the upper 
classes, and the industrial virtues that is to say the 
peaceable traits chiefly among the classes given to 
mechanical industry. 

In a general and uncertain way this holds true, but 
the test is not so readily applied nor so conclusive as 
might be wished. There are several assignable reasons 
for its partial failure. All classes are in a measure en- 
gaged in the pecuniary struggle, and in all classes the 
possession of the pecuniary traits counts towards the 
success and survival of the individual. Wherever the pe- 
cuniary culture prevails, the selective process by which 
men's habits of thought are shaped, and by which the 
survival of rival lines of descent is decided, proceeds 
proximately on the basis of fitness for acquisition. Con- 
sequently, if it were not for the fact that pecuniary 
efficiency is on the whole incompatible with industrial 
efficiency, the selective action of all occupations would 
tend to the unmitigated dominance of the pecuniary 
temperament. The result would be the installation of 
what has been known as the "economic man," as the 
normal and definitive type of human nature. But 
the "economic man," whose only interest is the 
self-regarding one and whose only human trait is 
prudence, is useless for the purposes of modern 

The modern industry requires an impersonal, non- 
invidious interest in the work in hand. Without this 
the elaborate processes of industry would be impossi- 
ble, and would, indeed, never have been conceived. 


242 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

This interest in work differentiates the workman from 
the criminal on the one hand, and from the captain of 
industry on the other. Since work must be done in 
order to the continued life of the community, there 
results a qualified selection favouring the spiritual apti- 
tude for work, within a certain range of occupations. 
This much, however, is to be conceded, that even within 
the industrial occupations the selective elimination of 
the pecuniary traits is an uncertain process, and that 
there is consequently an appreciable survival of the 
barbarian temperament even within these occupations. 
On this account there is at present no broad distinc- 
tion in this respect between the leisure-class charac- 
ter and the character of the common run of the 

The whole question as to a class distinction in re- 
spect of spiritual make-up is also obscured by the 
presence, in all classes of society, of acquired habits of 
life that closely simulate inherited traits and at the 
same time act to develop in the entire body of the 
population the traits which they simulate. These 
acquired habits, or assumed traits of character, are 
most commonly of an aristocratic cast. The prescrip- 
tive position of the leisure class as the exemplar of 
reputability has imposed many features of the leisure- 
class theory of life upon the lower classes ; with the 
result that there goes on, always and throughout society, 
a more or less persistent cultivation of these aristo- 
cratic traits. On this ground also these traits have a 
better chance of survival among the body of the people 
than would be the case if it were not for the precept 

The Conservation of Archaic Traits 243 

and example of the leisure class. As one channel, and 
an important one, through which this transfusion of 
aristocratic views of life, and consequently more or less 
archaic traits of character, goes on, may be mentioned 
the class of domestic servants. These have their 
notions of what is good and beautiful shaped by con- 
tact with the master class and carry the preconceptions 
so acquired back among their low-born equals, and so 
disseminate the higher ideals abroad through the com- 
munity without the loss of time which this dissemi- 
nation might otherwise suffer. The saying, " Like 
master, like man," has a greater significance than is 
commonly appreciated for the rapid popular acceptance 
of many elements of upper-class culture. 

There is also a further range of facts that go to lessen 
class differences as regards the survival of the pecuniary 
virtues. The pecuniary struggle produces an underfed 
class, of large proportions. This underfeeding consists 
in a deficiency of the necessaries of life or of the neces- 
saries of a decent expenditure. In either case the 
result is a closely enforced struggle for the means with 
which to meet the daily needs ; whether it be the 
physical or the higher needs. The strain of self-asser- 
tion against odds takes up the whole energy of the 
individual; he bends his efforts to compass his own 
invidious ends alone, and becomes continually more 
narrowly self-seeking. The industrial traits in this way 
tend to obsolescence through disuse. Indirectly, there- 
fore, by imposing a scheme of pecuniary decency and 
by withdrawing as much as may be of the means of life 
from the lower classes, the institution of a leisure class 

244 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

acts to conserve the pecuniary traits in the body of the 
population. The result is an assimilation of the lower 
classes to the type of human nature that belongs pri- 
marily to the upper classes only. 

It appears, therefore, that there is no wide difference 
in temperament between the upper and the lower 
classes ; but it appears also that the absence of such a 
difference is in good part due to the prescriptive ex- 
ample of the leisure class and to the popular acceptance 
of those broad principles of conspicuous waste and 
pecuniary emulation on which the institution of a 
leisure class rests. The institution acts to lower the 
industrial efficiency of the community and retard the 
adaptation of human nature to the exigencies of modern 
industrial life. It affects the prevalent or effective 
human nature in a conservative direction, (i) by direct 
transmission of archaic traits, through inheritance 
within the class and wherever the leisure-class blood 
is transfused outside the class, and (2) by conserving 
and fortifying the traditions of the archaic regime, and 
so making the chances of survival of barbarian traits 
greater also outside the range of transfusion of leisure- 
class blood. 

But little if anything has been done towards collect- 
ing or digesting data that are of special significance for 
the question of survival or elimination of traits in the 
modern populations. Little of a tangible character 
can therefore be offered in support of the view here 
taken, beyond a discursive review of such everyday 
facts as lie ready to hand. Such a recital can scarcely 
avoid being commonplace and tedious, but for all that 

The Conservation of Archaic Traits 24$ 

it seems necessary to the completeness of the argument, 
even in the meagre outline in which it is here attempted. 
A degree of indulgence may therefore fairly be be- 
spoken for the succeeding chapters, which offer a frag 
mentary recital of this kind. 


THE leisure class lives by the industrial community 
rather than in it. Its relations to industry are of a 
pecuniary rather than an industrial kind. Admission 
to the class is gained by exercise of the pecuniary apti- 
tudes aptitudes for acquisition rather than for service- 
ability. There is, therefore, a continued selective sifting 
of the human material that makes up the leisure class, 
and this selection proceeds on the ground of fitness for 
pecuniary pursuits. But the scheme of life of the class 
is in large part a heritage from the past, and embodies 
much of the habits and ideals of the earlier barbarian 
period. This archaic, barbarian scheme of life imposes 
itself also on the lower orders, with more or less mitiga- 
tion. In its turn the scheme of life, of conventions, acts 
selectively and by education to shape the human mate- 
rial, and its action runs chiefly in the direction of con- 
serving traits, habits, and ideals that belong to the early 
barbarian age, the age of prowess and predatory life. 

The most immediate and unequivocal expression of 
that archaic human nature which characterises man in 
the predatory stage is the fighting propensity proper. 
In cases where the predatory activity is a collective one, 


Modern Survivals of Prowess 247 

this propensity is frequently called the martial spirit, 
or, latterly, patriotism. It needs no insistence to find 
assent to the proposition that in the countries of civil- 
ised Europe the hereditary leisure class is endowed with 
this martial spirit in a higher degree than the middle 
classes. Indeed, the leisure class claims the distinction 
as a matter of pride, and no doubt with some grounds. 
War is honourable, and warlike prowess is eminently 
honorific in the eyes of the generality of men ; and this 
admiration of warlike prowess is itself the best voucher 
of a predatory temperament in the admirer of war. The 
enthusiasm for war, and the predatory temper of which 
it is the index, prevail in the largest measure among 
the upper classes, especially among the hereditary lei- 
sure class. Moreover, the ostensible serious occupation 
of the upper class is that of government, which, in point 
of origin and developmental content, is also a predatory 

The only class which could at all dispute with the 
hereditary leisure class the honour of an habitual belli- 
cose frame of mind is that of the lower-class delinquents. 
In ordinary times, the large body of the industrial classes 
is relatively apathetic touching warlike interests. When 
unexcited, this body of the common people, which makes 
up the effective force of the industrial community, is 
rather averse to any other than a defensive fight; in- 
deed, it responds a little tardily even to a provocation 
which makes for an attitude of defence. In the more 
civilised communities, or rather in the communities 
which have reached an advanced industrial develop- 
ment, the spirit of warlike aggression may be said to be 

248 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

obsolescent among the common people. This does not 
say that there is not an appreciable number of individu- 
als among the industrial classes in whom the martial 
spirit asserts itself obtrusively. Nor does it say that 
the body of the people may not be fired with martial 
ardour for a time under the stimulus of some special 
provocation, such as is seen in operation to-day in more 
than one of the countries of Europe, and for the time in 
America. But except for such seasons of temporary 
exaltation, and except for those individuals who are en- 
dowed with an archaic temperament of the predatory 
type, together with the similarly endowed body of indi- 
viduals among the higher and the lowest classes, the 
inertness of the mass of any modern civilised com- 
munity in this respect is probably so great as would 
make war impracticable, except against actual invasion. 
The habits and aptitudes of the common run of men 
make for an unfolding of activity in other, less pictu- 
resque directions than that of war. 

This class difference in temperament may be due in 
part to a difference in the inheritance of acquired traits 
in the several classes, but it seems also, in some meas- 
ure, to correspond with a difference in ethnic derivation. 
The class difference is in this respect visibly less in 
those countries whose population is relatively homo- 
geneous, ethnically, than in the countries where there is 
a broader divergence between the ethnic elements that 
make up the several classes of the community. In the 
same connection it may be noted that the later acces- 
sions to the leisure class in the latter countries, in a 
general way, show less of the martial spirit than con- 

Modern Survivals of Prowess 249 

temporary representatives of the aristocracy of the 
ancient line. These nouveaux arrives have recently 
emerged from the commonplace body of the population 
and owe their emergence into the leisure class to the 
exercise of traits and propensities which are not to be 
classed as prowess in the ancient sense. 

Apart from warlike activity proper, the institution of 
the duel is also an expression of the same superior readi- 
ness for combat ; and the duel is a leisure-class institu- 
tion. The duel is in substance a more or less deliberate 
resort to a fight as a final settlement of a difference of 
opinion. In civilised communities it prevails as a normal 
phenomenon only where there is an hereditary leisure 
class, and almost exclusively among that class. The 
exceptions are (i) military and naval officers who are 
ordinarily members of the leisure class, and who are at 
the same time specially trained to predatory habits of 
mind and (2) the lower-class delinquents who are 
by inheritance, or training, or both, of a similarly preda- 
tory disposition and habit. It is only the high-bred 
gentleman and the rowdy that normally resort to blows 
as the universal solvent of differences of opinion. The 
plain man will ordinarily fight only when excessive 
momentary irritation or alcoholic exaltation act to in- 
hibit the more complex habits of response to the stimuli 
that make for provocation. He is then thrown back 
upon the simpler, less differentiated forms of the in- 
stinct of self-assertion ; that is to say, he reverts tem- 
porarily and without reflection to an archaic habit of 

This institution of the duel as a mode of finally 

2 $o The Theory of the Leisure Class 

settling disputes and serious questions of precedence 
shades off into the obligatory, unprovoked private fight, 
as a social obligation due to one's good repute. As a 
leisure-class usage of this kind we have, particularly, 
that bizarre survival of bellicose chivalry, the German 
student duel. In the lower or spurious leisure class 
of the delinquents there is in all countries a similar, 
though less formal, social obligation incumbent on the 
rowdy to assert his manhood in unprovoked combat 
with his fellows. And spreading through all grades of 
society, a similar usage prevails among the boys of the 
community. The boy usually knows to a nicety, from 
day to day, how he and his associates grade in respect 
of relative fighting capacity ; and in the community of 
boys there is ordinarily no secure basis of reputability 
for any one who, by exception, will not or can not fight 
on invitation. 

All this applies especially to boys above a certain 
somewhat vague limit of maturity. The child's tem- 
perament does not commonly answer to this description 
during infancy and the years of close tutelage, when the 
child still habitually seeks contact with its mother at 
every turn of its daily life. During this earlier period 
there is little aggression and little propensity for an- 
tagonism. The transition from this peaceable temper 
to the predaceous, and in extreme cases malignant, mis- 
chievousness of the boy is a gradual one, and it is ac- 
complished with more completeness, covering a larger 
range of the individual's aptitudes, in some cases than 
in others. In the earlier stage of his growth, the child, 
whether boy or girl, shows less of initiative and aggres- 

Modern Survivals of Prowess 251 

sive self-assertion and less of an inclination to isolate 
himself and his interests from the domestic group in 
which he lives, and he shows more of sensitiveness to 
rebuke, bashfulness, timidity, and the need of friendly 
human contact. In the common run of cases this early 
temperament passes, by a gradual but somewhat rapid 
obsolescence of the infantile features, into the tempera- 
ment of the boy proper; though there are also cases 
where the predaceous features of boy life do not emerge 
at all, or at the most emerge in but a slight and 
obscure degree. 

In girls the transition to the predaceous stage is seldom 
accomplished with the same degree of completeness as 
in boys ; and in a relatively large proportion of cases it 
is scarcely undergone at all. In such cases the tran- 
sition from infancy to adolescence and maturity is a 
gradual and unbroken process of the shifting of interest 
from infantile purposes and aptitudes to the purposes, 
functions, and relations of adult life. In the girls there 
is a less general prevalence of a predaceous interval in 
the development ; and in the cases where it occurs, 
the predaceous and isolating attitude during the inter- 
val is commonly less accentuated. 

In the male child the predaceous interval is ordinarily 
fairly well marked and lasts for some time, but it is 
commonly terminated (if at all) with the attainment of 
maturity. This last statement may need very material 
qualification. The cases are by no means rare in which 
the transition from the boyish to the adult temperament 
is not made, or is made only partially understanding 
by the " adult " temperament the average temperament 

252 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

of those adult individuals in modern industrial life who 
have some serviceability for the purposes of the collec- 
tive life process, and who may therefore be said to make 
up the effective average of the industrial community. 

The ethnic composition of the European populations 
varies. In some cases even the lower classes are in 
large measure made up of the peace-disturbing dolicho- 
blond ; while in others this ethnic element is found 
chiefly among the hereditary leisure class. The righting 
habit seems to prevail to a less extent among the work- 
ing-class boys in the latter class of populations than 
among the boys of the upper classes or among those of 
the populations first named. 

If this generalisation as to the temperament of the 
boy among the working classes should be found true on 
a fuller and closer scrutiny of the field, it would add 
force to the view that the bellicose temperament is in 
some appreciable degree a race characteristic ; it appears 
to enter more largely into the make-up of the dominant, 
upper-class ethnic type the dolicho-blond of the 
European countries than into the subservient, lower- 
class types of man which are conceived to constitute 
the body of the population of the same communities. 

The case of the boy may seem not to bear seriously 
on the question of the relative endowment of prowess 
with which the several classes of society are gifted ; 
but it is at least of some value as going to show that 
this fighting impulse belongs to a more archaic tem- 
perament than that possessed by the average adult man 
of the industrious classes. In this, as in many other 
features of child life, the child reproduces, temporarily 

Modern Survivals of Prowess 253 

and in miniature, some of the earlier phases of the 
development of adult man. Under this interpretation, 
the boy's predilection for exploit and for isolation of his 
own interest is to be taken as a transient reversion to 
the human nature that is normal to the early barbarian 
culture the predatory culture proper. In this re- 
spect, as in much else, the leisure-class and the delin- 
quent-class character shows a persistence into adult 
life of traits that are normal to childhood and youth, 
and that are likewise normal or habitual to the earlier 
stages of culture. Unless the difference is traceable 
entirely to a fundamental difference between persistent 
ethnic types, the traits that distinguish the swaggering 
delinquent and the punctilious gentleman of leisure 
from the common crowd are, in some measure, marks 
of an arrested spiritual development. They mark an 
immature phase, as compared with the stage of devel- 
opment attained by the average of the adults in the 
modern industrial community. And it will appear 
presently that the puerile spiritual make-up of these 
representatives of the upper and the lowest social strata 
shows itself also in the presence of other archaic traits 
than this proclivity to ferocious exploit and isolation. 

As if to leave no doubt about the essential immaturity 
of the fighting temperament, we have, bridging the 
interval between legitimate boyhood and adult man- 
hood, the aimless and playful, but more or less syste- 
matic and elaborate, disturbances of the peace in vogue 
among schoolboys of a slightly higher age. In the com- 
mon run of cases, these disturbances are confined to 
the period of adolescence. They recur with decreasing 

254 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

frequency and acuteness as youth merges into adult 
life, and so they reproduce, in a general way, in the 
life of the individual, the sequence by which the group 
has passed from the predatory to a more settled habit 
of life. In an appreciable number of cases the spiritual 
growth of the individual comes to a close before he 
emerges from this puerile phase ; in these cases the 
fighting temper persists through life. Those individ- 
uals who in spiritual development eventually reach 
man's estate, therefore, ordinarily pass through a tem- 
porary archaic phase corresponding to the permanent 
spiritual level of the fighting and sporting men. Dif- 
ferent individuals will, of course, achieve spiritual matur- 
ity and sobriety in this respect in different degrees ; 
and those who fail of the average remain as an undis- 
solved residue of crude humanity in the modern indus- 
trial community and as a foil for that selective process 
of adaptation which makes for a heightened industrial 
efficiency and the fulness of life of the collectivity. 

This arrested spiritual development may express it- 
self not only in a direct participation by adults in youth- 
ful exploits of ferocity, but also indirectly in aiding 
and abetting disturbances of this kind on the part of 
younger persons. It thereby furthers the formation 
of habits of ferocity which may persist in the later life 
of the growing generation, and so retard any move- 
ment in the direction of a more peaceable effective tem- 
perament on the part of the community. If a person 
so endowed with a proclivity for exploits is in a position 
to guide the development of habits in the adolescent 
members of the community, the influence which he 

Modern Survivals of Prowess 255 

exerts in the direction of conservation and reversion to 
prowess may be very considerable. This is the signifi- 
cance, for instance, of the fostering care latterly be- 
stowed by many clergymen and other pillars of society 
upon " boys' brigades " and similar pseudo-military 
organisations. The same is true of the encouragement 
given to the growth of " college spirit," college athletics, 
and the like, in the higher institutions of learning. 

These manifestations of the predatory temperament 
are all to be classed under the head of exploit. 
They are partly simple and unreflected expressions of 
an attitude of emulative ferocity, partly activities de- 
liberately entered upon with a view to gaining repute 
for prowess. Sports of all kinds are of the same 
general character, including prize-fights, bull-fights, 
athletics, shooting, angling, yachting, and games of 
skill, even where the element of destructive physical 
efficiency is not an obtrusive feature. Sports shade 
off from the basis of hostile combat, through skill, to 
cunning and chicanery, without its being possible to 
draw a line at any point. The ground of an addiction 
to sports is an archaic spiritual constitution the pos- 
session of the predatory emulative propensity in a 
relatively high potency. A strong proclivity to adven- 
turesome exploit and to the infliction of damage is 
especially pronounced in those employments which are 
in colloquial usage specifically called sportsmanship. 

It is perhaps truer, or at least more evident, as 
regards sports than as regards the other expressions 
of predatory emulation already spoken of, that the 
temperament which inclines men to them is essentially 

256 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

a boyish temperament. The addiction to sports, there- 
fore, in a peculiar degree marks an arrested develop- 
ment of the man's moral nature. This peculiar boy- 
ishness of temperament in sporting men immediately 
becomes apparent when attention is directed to the 
large element of make-believe that is present in all 
sporting activity. Sports share this character of make- 
believe with the games and exploits to which children, 
especially boys, are habitually inclined. Make-believe 
does not enter in the same proportion into all sports, 
but it is present in a very appreciable degree in all. 
It is apparently present in a larger measure in sports- 
manship proper and in athletic contests than in set 
games of skill of a more sedentary character; although 
this rule may not be found to apply with any great 
uniformity. It is noticeable, for instance, that even 
very mild-mannered and matter-of-fact men who go out 
shooting are apt to carry an excess of arms and accou- 
trements in order to impress upon their own imagina- 
tion the seriousness of their undertaking. These 
huntsmen are also prone to a histrionic, prancing gait 
and to an elaborate exaggeration of the motions, 
whether of stealth or of onslaught, involved in their 
deeds of exploit. Similarly in athletic sports there is 
almost invariably present a good share of rant and 
swagger and ostensible mystification features which 
mark the histrionic nature of these employments. In 
all this, of course, the reminder of boyish make-believe 
is plain enough. The slang of athletics, by the way, 
is in great part made up of extremely sanguinary locu- 
tions borrowed from the terminology of warfare. Ex- 

Modern Survivals of Prowess 257 

cept where it is adopted as a necessary means of secret 
communication, the use of a special slang in any employ- 
ment is probably to be accepted as evidence that the 
occupation in question is substantially make-believe. 

A further feature in which sports differ from the 
duel and similar disturbances of the peace is the pecu- 
liarity that they admit of other motives being assigned 
for them besides the impulses of exploit and ferocity. 
There is probably little if any other motive present in 
any given case, but the fact that other reasons for 
indulging in sports are frequently assigned goes to say 
that other grounds are sometimes present in a subsidi- 
ary way. Sportsmen hunters and anglers are more 
or less in the habit of assigning a love of nature, the 
need of recreation, and the like, as the incentives to 
their favourite pastime. These motives are no doubt 
frequently present and make up a part of the attractive- 
ness of the sportsman's life ; but these can not be the 
chief incentives. These ostensible needs could be more 
readily and fully satisfied without the accompaniment 
of a systematic effort to take the life of those creatures 
that make up an essential feature of that "nature" 
that is beloved by the sportsman. It is, indeed, the 
most noticeable effect of the sportsman's activity to 
keep nature in a state of chronic desolation by kill- 
ing off all living things whose destruction he can 

Still, there is ground for the sportsman's claim that 
under the existing conventionalities his need of recre- 
ation and of contact with nature can best be satisfied 
by the course which he takes. Certain canons of good 

258 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

breeding have been imposed by the prescriptive exam- 
ple of a predatory leisure class in the past and have 
been somewhat painstakingly conserved by the usage 
of the latter-day representatives of that class ; and these 
canons will not permit him, without blame, to seek 
contact with nature on other terms. From being an 
honourable employment handed down from the predatory 
culture as the highest form of everyday leisure, sports 
have come to be the only form of outdoor activity that 
has the full sanction of decorum. Among the proxi- 
mate incentives to shooting and angling, then, may be 
the need of recreation and outdoor life. The remoter 
cause which imposes the necessity of seeking these 
objects under the cover of systematic slaughter is a 
prescription that can not be violated except at the 
risk of disrepute and consequent lesion to one's self- 

The case of other kinds of sport is somewhat similar. 
Of these, athletic games are the best example. Pre- 
scriptive usage with respect to what forms of activity, 
exercise, and recreation are permissible under the code 
of reputable living is of course present here also. 
Those who are addicted to athletic sports, or who 
admire them, set up the claim that these afford the 
best available means of recreation and of "physical 
culture." And prescriptive usage gives countenance 
to the claim. The canons of reputable living exclude 
from the scheme of life of the leisure class all activity 
that can not be classed as conspicuous leisure. And 
consequently they tend by prescription to exclude it 
also from the scheme of life of the community gen- 

Modern Survivals of Prowess 259 

erally. At the same time purposeless physical exer- 
tion is tedious and distasteful beyond tolerance. As 
has been noticed in another connection, recourse is in 
such a case had to some form of activity which shall at 
least afford a colourable pretence of purpose, even if the 
object assigned be only a make-believe. Sports satisfy 
these requirements of substantial futility together with 
a colourable make-believe of purpose. In addition to 
this they afford scope for emulation, and are attractive 
also on that account. In order to be decorous, an 
employment must conform to the leisure-class canon 
of reputable waste ; at the same time all activity, in 
order to be persisted in as an habitual, even if only 
partial, expression of life, must conform to the generi- 
cally human canon of efficiency for some serviceable 
objective end. The leisure-class canon demands strict 
and comprehensive futility; the instinct of workman- 
ship demands purposeful action. The leisure-class 
canon of decorum acts slowly and pervasively, by a 
selective elimination of all substantially useful or pur- 
poseful modes of action from the accredited scheme of 
life ; the instinct of workmanship acts impulsively and 
may be satisfied, provisionally, with a proximate pur- 
pose. It is only as the apprehended ulterior futility 
of a given line of action enters the reflective complex 
of consciousness as an element essentially alien to the 
normally purposeful trend of the life process that its 
disquieting and deterrent effect on the consciousness 
of the agent is wrought. 

The individual's habits of thought make an organic 
complex, the trend of which is necessarily in the direc- 

260 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

tion of serviceability to the life process. When it is 
attempted to assimilate systematic waste or futility, as 
an end in life, into this organic complex, there pres- 
ently supervenes a revulsion. But this revulsion of the 
organism may be avoided if the attention can be con- 
fined to the proximate, unreflected purpose of dexterous 
or emulative exertion. Sports hunting, angling, ath- 
letic games, and the like afford an exercise for dex- 
terity and for the emulative ferocity and astuteness 
characteristic of predatory life. So long as the indi- 
vidual is but slightly gifted with reflection or with a 
sense of the ulterior trend of his actions, so long as 
his life is substantially a life of na'fve impulsive action, 
so long the immediate and unreflected purposeful- 
ness of sports, in the way of an expression of dominance, 
will measurably satisfy his instinct of workmanship. 
This is especially true if his dominant impulses are the 
unreflecting emulative propensities of the predaceous 
temperament. At the same time the canons of decorum 
will commend sports to him as expressions of a pecun- 
iarily blameless life. It is by meeting these two 
requirements, of ulterior wastefulness and proximate 
purposefulness, that any given employment holds its 
place as a traditional and habitual mode of decorous 
recreation. In the sense that other forms of recreation 
and exercise are morally impossible to persons of good 
breeding and delicate sensibilities, then, sports are the 
best available means of recreation under existing cir- 

But those members of respectable society who advo- 
cate athletic games commonly justify their attitude on 

Modern Survivals of Prowess 261 

this head to themselves and to their neighbours on the 
ground that these games serve as an invaluable means 
of development. They not only improve the contest- 
ant's physique, but it is commonly added that they also 
foster a manly spirit, both in the participants and in 
the spectators. Football is the particular game which 
will probably first occur to any one in this community 
when the question of the serviceability of athletic games 
is raised, as this form of athletic contest is at present 
uppermost in the mind of those who plead for or against 
games as a means of physical or moral salvation. This 
typical athletic sport may, therefore, serve to illustrate 
the bearing of athletics upon the development of the 
contestant's character and physique. It has been said, 
not inaptly, that the relation of football to physical 
culture is much the same as that of the bull-fight to 
agriculture. Serviceability for these lusory institutions 
requires sedulous training or breeding. The material 
used, whether brute or human, is subjected to careful 
selection and discipline, in order to secure and accentuate 
certain aptitudes and propensities which are character- 
istic of the ferine state, and which tend to obsolescence 
under domestication. This does not mean that the re- 
sult in either case is an all-around and consistent rehabili- 
tation of the ferine or barbarian habit of mind and body. 
The result is rather a one-sided return to barbarism or 
to the fer& natura a rehabilitation and accentuation 
of those ferine traits which make for damage and deso- 
lation, without a corresponding development of the traits 
which would serve the individual's self-preservation and 
fulness of life in a ferine environment. The culture 

262 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

bestowed in football gives a product of exotic ferocity 
and cunning. It is a rehabilitation of the early barba- 
rian temperament, together with a suppression of those 
details of temperament which, as seen from the stand- 
point of the social and economic exigencies, are the 
redeeming features of the savage character. 

The physical vigour acquired in the training for athletic 
games so far as the training may be said to have this 
effect is of advantage both to the individual and to 
the collectivity, in that, other things being equal, it con- 
duces to economic serviceability. The spiritual traits 
which go with athletic sports are likewise economically 
advantageous to the individual, as contradistinguished 
from the interests of the collectivity. This holds true 
in any community where these traits are present in 
some degree in the population. Modern competition 
is in large part a process of self-assertion on the basis 
of these traits of predatory human nature. In the 
sophisticated form in which they enter into the mod- 
ern, peaceable emulation, the possession of these traits 
in some measure is almost a necessary of life to the 
civilised man. But while they are indispensable to the 
competitive individual, they are not directly serviceable 
to the community. So far as regards the serviceability 
of the individual for the purposes of the collective life, 
emulative efficiency is of use only indirectly if at all. 
Ferocity and cunning are of no use to the community 
except in its hostile dealings with other communities ; 
and they are useful to the individual only because there 
is so large a proportion of the same traits actively pres- 
ent in the human environment to which he is exposed. 

Modern Survivals of Prowess 263 

Any individual who enters the competitive struggle 
without the due endowment of these traits is at a dis- 
advantage, somewhat as a hornless steer would find 
himself at a disadvantage in a drove of horned cattle. 

The possession and the cultivation of the predatory 
traits of character may, of course, be desirable on other 
than economic grounds. There is a prevalent aesthetic 
or ethical predilection for the barbarian aptitudes, and 
the traits in question minister so effectively to this 
predilection that their serviceability in the aesthetic or 
ethical respect probably offsets any economic unservice- 
ability which they may give. But for the present pur- 
pose that is beside the point. Therefore nothing is 
said here as to the desirability or advisability of sports 
on the whole, or as to their value on other than eco- 
nomic grounds. 

In popular apprehension there is much that is admi- 
rable in the type of manhood which the life of sport 
fosters. There is self-reliance and good-fellowship, so 
termed in the somewhat loose colloquial use of the 
words. From a different point of view the qualities 
currently so characterised might be described as trucu- 
lence and clannishness. The reason for the current 
approval and admiration of these manly qualities, as 
well as for their being called manly, is the same as the 
reason for their usefulness to the individual. The 
members of the community, and especially that class of 
the community which sets the pace in canons of taste, 
are endowed with this range of propensities in sufficient 
measure to make their absence in others felt as a short- 
coming, and to make their possession in an exceptional 

264 The Theory of the Leistire Class 

degree appreciated as an attribute of superior merit. 
The traits of predatory man are by no means obsolete 
in the common run of modern populations. They are 
present and can be called out in bold relief at any time 
by any appeal to the sentiments in which they express 
themselves, unless this appeal should clash with the 
specific activities that make up our habitual occupations 
and comprise the general range of our everyday interests. 
The common run of the population of any industrial 
community is emancipated from these, economically 
considered, untoward propensities only in the sense 
that, through partial and temporary disuse, they have 
lapsed into the background of sub-conscious motives. 
With varying degrees of potency in different individuals, 
they remain available for the aggressive shaping of 
men's actions and sentiments whenever a stimulus of 
more than everyday intensity comes in to call them 
forth. And they assert themselves forcibly in any case 
where no occupation alien to the predatory culture has 
usurped the individual's everyday range of interest and 
sentiment. This is the case among the leisure class 
and among certain portions of the population which are 
ancillary to that class. Hence the facility with which 
any new accessions to the leisure class take to sports ; 
and hence the rapid growth of sports and of the sport- 
ing sentiment in any industrial community where wealth 
has accumulated sufficiently to exempt a considerable 
part of the population from work. 

A homely and familiar fact may serve to show that 
the predaceous impulse does not prevail in the same 
degree in all classes. Taken simply as a feature of 

Modern Survivals of Prowess 265 

modern life, the habit of carrying a walking-stick may 
seem at best a trivial detail ; but the usage has a sig- 
nificance for the point in question. The classes among 
whom the habit most prevails the classes with whom 
the walking-stick is associated in popular apprehen- 
sion are the men of the leisure class proper, sporting 
men, and the lower-class delinquents. To these might 
perhaps be added the men engaged in the pecuniary 
employments. The same is not true of the common 
run of men engaged in industry ; and it may be noted 
by the way that women do not carry a stick except in 
case of infirmity, where it has a use of a different kind. 
The practice is of course in great measure a matter of 
polite usage ; but the basis of polite usage is, in turn, 
the proclivities of the class which sets the pace in polite 
usage. The walking-stick serves the purpose of an 
advertisement that the bearer's hands are employed 
otherwise than in useful effort, and it therefore has 
utility as an evidence of leisure. But it is also a 
weapon, and it meets a felt need of barbarian man on 
that ground. The handling of so tangible and primi- 
tive a means of offence is very comforting to any one 
who is gifted with even a moderate share of ferocity. 
The exigencies of the language make it impossible to 
avoid an apparent implication of disapproval of the 
aptitudes, propensities, and expressions of life here under 
discussion. It is, however, not intended to imply any- 
thing in the way of deprecation or commendation of 
any one of these phases of human character or of the 
life process. The various elements of the prevalent 
human nature are taken up from the point of view of 

266 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

economic theory, and the traits discussed are gauged 
and graded with regard to their immediate economic 
bearing on the facility of the collective life process. 
That is to say, these phenomena are here apprehended 
from the economic point of view and are valued with 
respect to their direct action in furtherance or hin- 
drance of a more perfect adjustment of the human col- 
lectivity to the environment and to the institutional 
structure required by the economic situation of the col- 
lectivity for the present and for the immediate future. 
For these purposes the traits handed down from the 
predatory culture are less serviceable than might be. 
Although even in this connection it is not to be over- 
looked that the energetic aggressiveness and pertinacity 
of predatory man is a heritage of no mean value. The 
economic value with some regard also to the social 
value in the narrower sense of these aptitudes and 
propensities is attempted to be passed upon without 
reflecting on their value as seen from another point of 
view. When contrasted with the prosy mediocrity of 
the latter-day industrial scheme of life, and judged by 
the accredited standards of morality, and more espe- 
cially by the standards of aesthetics and of poetry, these 
survivals from a more primitive type of manhood may 
have a very different value from that here assigned 
them. But all this being foreign to the purpose in 
hand, no expression of opinion on this latter head would 
be in place here. All that is admissible is to enter the 
caution that these standards of excellence, which are 
alien to the present purpose, must not be allowed to 
influence our economic appreciation of these traits of 

Modern Survivals of Prowess 267 

human character or of the activities which foster their 
growth. This applies both as regards those persons 
who actively participate in sports and those whose 
sporting experience consists in contemplation only. 
What is here said of the sporting propensity is likewise 
pertinent to sundry reflections presently to be made in 
this connection on what would colloquially be known as 
the religious life. 

The last paragraph incidentally touches upon the fact 
that everyday speech can scarcely be employed in dis- 
cussing this class of aptitudes and activities without 
implying deprecation or apology. The fact is signifi- 
cant as showing the habitual attitude of the dispassion- 
ate common man toward the propensities which express 
themselves in sports and in exploit generally. And this 
is perhaps as convenient a place as any to discuss that 
undertone of deprecation which runs through all the 
voluminous discourse in defence or in laudation of ath- 
letic sports, as well as of other activities of a predomi- 
nantly predatory character. The same apologetic frame 
of mind is at least beginning to be observable in the 
spokesmen of most other institutions handed down 
from the barbarian phase of life. Among these archaic 
institutions which are felt to need apology are comprised, 
with others, the entire existing system of the distribu- 
tion of wealth, together with the resulting class distinc- 
tions of status ; all or nearly all forms of consumption 
that come under the head of conspicuous waste ; the 
status of women under the patriarchal system; and 
many features of the traditional creeds and devout ob 
servances, especially the exoteric expressions of the 

268 The Theory of the Leistire Class 

creed and the naive apprehension of received observ- 
ances. What is to be said in this connection of the 
apologetic attitude taken in commending sports and 
the sporting character will therefore apply, with a suit- 
able change in phraseology, to the apologies offered 
in behalf of these other, related elements of our social 

There is a feeling usually vague and not commonly 
avowed in so many words by the apologist himself, but 
ordinarily perceptible in the manner of his discourse 
that these sports, as well as the general range of pre- 
daceous impulses and habits of thought which under- 
lie the sporting character, do not altogether commend 
themselves to common sense. "As to the majority of 
murderers, they are very incorrect characters." This 
aphorism offers a valuation of the predaceous tempera- 
ment, and of the disciplinary effects of its overt expres- 
sion and exercise, as seen from the moralist's point of 
view. As such it affords an indication of what is the 
deliverance of the sober sense of mature men as to the 
degree of availability of the predatory habit of mind for 
the purposes of the collective life. It is felt that the 
presumption is against any activity which involves habit- 
uation to the predatory attitude, and that the burden of 
proof lies with those who speak for the rehabilitation of 
the predaceous temper and for the practices which 
strengthen it. There is a strong body of popular senti- 
ment in favour of diversions and enterprise of the kind 
in question ; but there is at the same time present in 
the community a pervading sense that this ground of 
sentiment wants legitimation. The required legitima- 

Modern Survivals of Prowess 269 

tion is ordinarily sought by showing that although 
sports are substantially of a predatory, socially disin- 
tegrating effect ; although their proximate effect runs in 
the direction of reversion to propensities that are indus- 
trially disserviceable ; yet indirectly and remotely by 
some not readily comprehensible process of polar induc- 
tion, or counter-irritation perhaps sports are conceived 
to foster a habit of mind that is serviceable for the social 
or industrial purpose. That is to say, although sports 
are essentially of the nature of invidious exploit, it is 
presumed that by some remote and obscure effect they 
result in the growth of a temperament conducive to non- 
invidious work. It is commonly attempted to show all 
this empirically ; or it is rather assumed that this is the 
empirical generalisation which must be obvious to any 
one who cares to see it. In conducting the proof of 
this thesis the treacherous ground of inference from 
cause to effect is somewhat shrewdly avoided, except so 
far as to show that the "manly virtues" spoken of above 
are fostered by sports. But since it is these manly vir- 
tues that are (economically) in need of legitimation, the 
chain of proof breaks off where it should begin. In the 
most general economic terms, these apologies are an 
effort to show that, in spite of the logic of the thing, 
sports do in fact further what may broadly be called 
workmanship. So long as he has not succeeded in per- 
suading himself or others that this is their effect the 
thoughtful apologist for sports will not rest content ; 
and commonly, it is to be admitted, he does not rest 
content. His discontent with his own vindication of 
the practices in question is ordinarily shown by his 

270 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

truculent tone and by the eagerness with which he 
heaps up asseverations in support of his position. 

But why are apologies needed ? If there prevails a 
body of popular sentiment in favour of sports, why is not 
that fact a sufficient legitimation ? The protracted dis- 
cipline of prowess to which the race has been subjected 
under the predatory and quasi-peaceable culture has 
transmitted to the men of to-day a temperament that 
finds gratification in these expressions of ferocity and 
cunning. So, why not accept these sports as legitimate 
expressions of a normal and wholesome human nature? 
What other norm is there that is to be lived up to than 
that given in the aggregate range of propensities that 
express themselves in the sentiments of this generation, 
including the hereditary strain of prowess? The ulte- 
rior norm to which appeal is taken is the instinct of 
workmanship, which is an instinct more fundamental, 
of more ancient prescription, than the propensity to 
predatory emulation. The latter is but a special devel- 
opment of the instinct of workmanship, a variant, rela- 
tively late and ephemeral in spite of its great absolute 
antiquity. The emulative predatory impulse or the 
instinct of sportsmanship, as it might well be called 
is essentially unstable in comparison with the primor- 
dial instinct of workmanship out of which it has been 
developed and differentiated. Tested by this ulterior 
norm of life, predatory emulation, and therefore the life 
of sport, falls short. 

The manner and the measure in which the institution 
of a leisure class conduces to the conservation of sports 
and invidious exploit can of course not be succinctly 

Modern Survivals of Prowess 271 

stated. From the evidence already recited it appears 
that, in sentiment and inclinations, the leisure class is 
more favourable to a warlike attitude and animus than 
the industrial classes. Something similar seems to be 
true as regards sports. But it is chiefly in its indirect 
effects, through the canons of decorous living, that the 
institution has its influence on the prevalent sentiment 
with respect to the sporting life. This indirect effect 
goes almost unequivocally in the direction of furthering 
a survival of the predatory temperament and habits; 
and this is true even with respect to those variants of 
the sporting life which the higher leisure-class code 
of proprieties proscribes; as, e.g., prize-fighting, cock- 
fighting, and other like vulgar expressions of the 
sporting temper. Whatever the latest authenticated 
schedule of detail proprieties may say, the accredited 
canons of decency sanctioned by the institution say 
without equivocation that emulation and waste are good 
and their opposites are disreputable. In the crepuscu- 
lar light of the social nether spaces the details of the 
code are not apprehended with all the facility that might 
be desired, and these broad underlying canons of decency 
are therefore applied somewhat unreflectingly, with lit- 
tle question as to the scope of their competence or the 
exceptions that have been sanctioned in detail. 

Addiction to athletic sports, not only in the way of 
direct participation, but also in the way of sentiment 
and moral support, is, in a more or less pronounced 
degree, a characteristic of the leisure class; and it 
is a trait which that class shares with the lower-class 
delinquents, and with such atavistic elements through- 

272 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

out the body of the community as are endowed with a 
dominant predaceous trend. Few individuals among the 
populations of Western civilised countries are so far 
devoid of the predaceous instinct as to find no diversion 
in contemplating athletic sports and games, but with 
the common run of individuals among the industrial 
classes the inclination to sports does not assert itself 
to the extent of constituting what may fairly be called 
a sporting habit. With these classes sports are an oc- 
casional diversion rather than a serious feature of life. 
This common body of the people can therefore not be 
said to cultivate the sporting propensity. Although it 
is not obsolete in the average of them, or even in any 
appreciable number of individuals, yet the predilection 
for sports in the commonplace industrial classes is of 
the nature of a reminiscence, more or less diverting as 
an occasional interest, rather than a vital and permanent 
interest that counts as a dominant factor in shaping the 
organic complex of habits of thought into which it 

As it manifests itself in the sporting life of to-day, 
this propensity may not appear to be an economic factor 
of grave consequence. Taken simply by itself it does 
not count for a great deal in its direct effects on the 
industrial efficiency or the consumption of any given 
individual; but the prevalence and the growth of the 
type of human nature of which this propensity is a char- 
acteristic feature is a matter of some consequence. It 
affects the economic life of the collectivity both as 
regards the rate of economic development and as re- 
gards the character of the results attained by the devel- 

Modern Survivals of Prowess 273 

opment. For better or worse, the fact that the popular 
habits of thought are in any degree dominated by this 
type of character can not but greatly affect the scope, 
direction, standards, and ideals of the collective economic 
life, as well as the degree of adjustment of the collective 
life to the environment. 

Something to a like effect is to be said of other traits 
that go to make up the barbarian character. For the 
purposes of economic theory, these further barbarian 
traits may be taken as concomitant variations of that 
predaceous temper of which prowess is an expression. 
In great measure they are not primarily of an economic 
character, nor do they have much direct economic bear- 
ing. They serve to indicate the stage of economic 
evolution to which the individual possessed of them is 
adapted. They are of importance, therefore, as extra- 
neous tests of the degree of adaptation of the character 
in which they are comprised to the economic exigencies 
of to-day; but they are also to some extent important 
as being aptitudes which themselves go to increase or 
diminish the economic serviceability of the individual. 

As it finds expression in the life of the barbarian, 
prowess manifests itself in two main directions, force 
and fraud. In varying degrees these two forms of ex- 
pression are similarly present in modern warfare, in the 
pecuniary occupations, and in sports and games. Both 
lines of aptitudes are cultivated and strengthened by 
the life of sport as well as by the more serious forms 
of emulative life. Strategy or cunning is an element 
invariably present in games, as also in warlike pursuits 
and in the chase. In all of these employments strategy 

274 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

tends to develop into finesse and chicane. Chicane, 
falsehood, brow-beating, hold a well-secured place in 
the method of procedure of any athletic contest and in 
games generally. The habitual employment of an um- 
pire, and the minute technical regulations governing the 
limits and details of permissible fraud and strategic 
advantage, sufficiently attest the fact that fraudulent 
practices and attempts to overreach one's opponents 
are not adventitious features of the game. In the 
nature of the case habituation to sports should conduce 
to a fuller development of the aptitude for fraud ; and 
the prevalence in the community of that predatory 
temperament which inclines men to sports connotes a 
prevalence of sharp practice and callous disregard of 
the interests of others, individually and collectively. 
Resort to fraud, in any guise and under any legiti- 
mation of law or custom, is an expression of a narrowly 
self -regarding habit of mind. It is needless to dwell at 
any length on the economic value of this feature of the 
sporting character. 

In this connection it is to be noted that the most 
obvious characteristic of the physiognomy affected by 
athletic and other sporting men is that of an extreme 
astuteness. The gifts and exploits of Ulysses are 
scarcely second to those of Achilles, either in their 
substantial furtherance of the game or in the eclat 
which they give the astute sporting man among his 
associates. The pantomime of astuteness is commonly 
the first step in that assimilation to the professional 
sporting man which a youth undergoes after matricu- 
lation in any reputable school, of the secondary or the 

Modern Survivals of Prowess 275 

higher education, as the case may be. And the physi- 
ognomy of astuteness, as a decorative feature, never 
ceases to receive the thoughtful attention of men whose 
serious interest lies in athletic games, races, or other 
contests of a similar emulative nature. As a further 
indication of their spiritual kinship, it may be pointed 
out that the members of the lower delinquent class 
usually show this physiognomy of astuteness in a 
marked degree, and that they very commonly show the 
same histrionic exaggeration of it that is often seen in 
the young candidate for athletic honours. This, by 
the way, is the most legible mark of what is vulgarly 
called " toughness " in youthful aspirants for a bad name. 

The astute man, it may be remarked, is of no eco- 
nomic value to the community unless it be for the 
purpose of sharp practice in dealings with other com- 
munities. His functioning is not a furtherance of the 
generic life process. At its best, in its direct economic 
bearing, it is a conversion of the economic substance 
of the collectivity to a growth alien to the collective 
life process very much after the analogy of what in 
medicine would be called a benign tumor, with some 
tendency to transgress the uncertain line that divides 
the benign from the malign growths. 

The two barbarian traits, ferocity and astuteness, go 
to make up the predaceous temper or spiritual attitude. 
They are the expressions of a narrowly self-regarding 
habit of mind. Both are highly serviceable for indi- 
vidual expediency in a life looking to invidious success. 
Both also have a high aesthetic value. Both are fostered 
by the pecuniary culture. But both alike are of no use 
for the purposes of the collective life. 



THE gambling propensity is another subsidiary trait 
of the barbarian temperament. It is a concomitant 
variation of character of almost universal prevalence 
among sporting men and among men given to warlike 
and emulative activities generally. This trait also has 
a direct economic value. It is recognised to be a 
hindrance to the highest industrial efficiency of the 
aggregate in any community where it prevails in an 
appreciable degree. 

The gambling proclivity is doubtfully to be classed 
as a feature belonging exclusively to the predatory type 
of human nature. The chief factor in the gambling 
habit is the belief in luck ; and this belief is apparently 
traceable, at least in its elements, to a stage in human 
evolution antedating the predatory culture. It may well 
have been under the predatory culture that the belief in 
luck was developed into the form in which it is present, 
as the chief element of the gambling proclivity, in the 
sporting temperament. It probably owes the specific 
form under which it occurs in the modern culture to 
the predatory discipline. But the belief in luck is in 
substance a habit of more ancient date than the preda- 
tory culture. It is one form of the animistic apprehen- 


The Belief in Luck 277 

sion of things. The belief seems to be a trait carried 
over in substance from an earlier phase into the barba- 
rian culture, and transmuted and transmitted through 
that culture to a later stage of human development 
under a specific form imposed by the predatory disci- 
pline. But in any case it is to be taken as an archaic 
trait, inherited from a more or less remote past, more 
or less incompatible with the requirements of the mod- 
ern industrial process, and more or less of a hindrance 
to the fullest efficiency of the collective economic life 
of the present. 

While the belief in luck is the basis of the gambling 
habit, it is not the only element that enters into the 
habit of betting. Betting on the issue of contests of 
strength and skill proceeds on a further motive, without 
which the belief in luck would scarcely come in as a 
prominent feature of sporting life. This further motive 
is the desire of the anticipated winner, or the partisan 
of the anticipated winning side, to heighten his side's 
ascendency at the cost of the loser. Not only does the 
stronger side score a more signal victory, and the losing 
side suffer a more painful and humiliating defeat, in 
proportion as the pecuniary gain and loss in the wager 
is large ; although this alone is a consideration of mate- 
rial weight. But the wager is commonly laid also with 
a view, not avowed in words nor even recognised in set 
terms in petto, to enhancing the chances of success for 
the contestant on which it is laid. It is felt that sub- 
stance and solicitude expended to this end can not go 
for naught in the issue. There is here a special mani- 
festation of the instinct of workmanship, backed by an 

278 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

even more manifest sense that the animistic congruity 
of things must decide for a victorious outcome for the 
side in whose behalf the propensity inherent in events 
has been propitiated and fortified by so much of cona- 
tive and kinetic urging. This incentive to the wager 
expresses itself freely under the form of backing one's 
favourite in any contest, and it is unmistakably a 
predatory feature. It is as ancillary to the predaceous 
impulse proper that the belief in luck expresses itself 
in a wager. So that it may be set down that in so far 
as the belief in luck comes to expression in the form of 
laying a wager, it is to be accounted an integral element 
of the predatory type of character. The belief is, in its 
elements, an archaic habit which belongs substantially 
to early, undifferentiated human nature ; but when this 
belief is helped out by the predatory emulative impulse, 
and so is differentiated into the specific form of the 
gambling habit, it is, in this higher-developed and 
specific form, to be classed as a trait of the barbarian 

The belief in luck is a sense of fortuitous necessity 
in the sequence of phenomena. In its various muta- 
tions and expressions, it is of very serious importance 
for the economic efficiency of any community in which 
it prevails to an appreciable extent. So much so as 
to warrant a more detailed discussion of its origin 
and content and of the bearing of its various ramifica- 
tions upon economic structure and function, as well 
as a discussion of the relation of the leisure class to 
its growth, differentiation, and persistence. In the 
developed, integrated form in which it is most readily 

The Belief in Luck 279 

observed in the barbarian of the predatory culture or 
in the sporting man of modern communities, the belief 
comprises at least two distinguishable elements, 
which are to be taken as two different phases of the 
same fundamental habit of thought, or as the same 
psychological factor in two successive phases of its 
evolution. The fact that these two elements are suc- 
cessive phases of the same general line of growth of 
belief does not hinder their coexisting in the habits 
of thought of any given individual. The more primi- 
tive form (or the more archaic phase) is an incipient 
animistic belief, or an animistic sense of relations and 
things, that imputes a quasi-personal character to facts. 
To the archaic man all the obtrusive and obviously 
consequential objects and facts in his environment 
have a quasi-personal individuality. They are con- 
ceived to be possessed of volition, or rather of propen- 
sities, which enter into the complex of causes and 
affect events in an inscrutable manner. The sporting 
man's sense of luck and chance, or of fortuitous neces- 
sity, is an inarticulate or inchoate animism. It applies 
to objects and situations, often in a very vague way; 
but it is usually so far defined as to imply the possi- 
bility of propitiating, or of deceiving and cajoling, or 
otherwise disturbing the unfolding of propensities 
resident in the objects which constitute the apparatus 
and accessories of any game of skill or chance. There 
are few sporting men who are not in the habit of 
wearing charms or talismans to which more or less 
of efficacy is felt to belong. And the proportion is 
not much less of those who instinctively dread the 

280 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

"hoodooing" of the contestants or the apparatus en- 
gaged in any contest on which they lay a wager ; 
or who feel that the fact of their backing a given 
contestant or side in the game does and ought to 
strengthen that side; or to whom the "mascot" which 
they cultivate means something more than a jest. 

In its simple form the belief in luck is this instinc- 
tive sense of an inscrutable teleological propensity in 
objects or situations. Objects or events have a pro- 
pensity to eventuate in a given end, whether this end or 
objective point of the sequence is conceived to be fortui- 
tously given or deliberately sought. From this simple 
animism the belief shades off by insensible grada- 
tions into the second, derivative form or phase above 
referred to, which is a more or less articulate belief in 
an inscrutable preternatural agency. The preternat- 
ural agency works through the visible objects with 
which it is associated, but is not identified with these 
objects in point of individuality. The use of the term 
" preternatural agency " here carries no further impli- 
cation as to the nature of the agency spoken of as 
preternatural. This is only a farther development of 
animistic belief. The preternatural agency is not 
necessarily conceived to be a personal agent in the 
full sense, but it is an agency which partakes of the 
attributes of personality to the extent of somewhat 
arbitrarily influencing the outcome of any enterprise, 
and especially of any contest. The pervading belief 
in the hamingia or gipta (gcefa, aiiffnd) which lends so 
much of colour to the Icelandic sagas specifically, and 
to early Germanic folk-legends generally, is an illustra- 

The Belief in Luck 281 

tion of this sense of an extra-physical propensity in 
the course of events. 

In this expression or form of the belief the pro- 
pensity is scarcely personified, although to a varying 
extent an individuality is imputed to it ; and this indi- 
viduated propensity is sometimes conceived to yield to 
circumstances, commonly to circumstances of a spirit- 
ual or preternatural character. A well-known and 
striking exemplification of the belief in a fairly ad- 
vanced stage of differentiation and involving an anthro- 
pomorphic personification of the preternatural agent 
appealed to is afforded by the wager of battle. Here 
the preternatural agent was conceived to act on request 
as umpire, and to shape the outcome of the contest 
in accordance with some stipulated ground of decision, 
such as the equity or legality of the respective con- 
testants' claims. The like sense of an inscrutable but 
spiritually necessary tendency in events is still trace- 
able as an obscure element in current popular belief, 
as shown, for instance, by the well-accredited maxim, 
"Thrice is he armed who knows his quarrel just," 
a maxim which retains much of its significance for the 
average unreflecting person even in the civilised com- 
munities of to-day. The modern reminiscence of the 
belief in the hamingia, or in the guidance of an unseen 
hand, which is traceable in the acceptance of this 
maxim is faint and perhaps uncertain ; and it seems 
in any case to be blended with other psychological mo- 
ments that are not clearly of an animistic character. 

For the purpose in hand it is unnecessary to look 
more closely into the psychological process or the eth- 

282 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

nological line of descent by which the later of these two 
animistic apprehensions of propensity is derived from 
the earlier. This question may be of the gravest 
importance to folk-psychology or to the theory of the 
evolution of creeds and cults. The same is true of the 
more fundamental question whether the two are related 
at all as successive phases in a sequence of development. 
Reference is here made to the existence of these ques- 
tions only to remark that the interest of the present 
discussion does not lie in that direction. So far as con- 
cerns economic theory, these two elements or phases of 
the belief in luck, or in an extra-causal trend or propen- 
sity in things, are of substantially the same character. 
They have an economic significance as habits of thought 
which affect the individual's habitual view of the facts 
and sequences with which he comes in contact, and 
which thereby affect the individual's serviceability for 
the industrial purpose. Therefore, apart from all ques- 
tion of the beauty, worth, or beneficence of any animistic 
belief, there is place for a discussion of their economic 
bearing on the serviceability of the individual as an 
economic factor, and especially as an industrial agent. 
It has already been noted in an earlier connection, 
that in order to the highest serviceability in the com- 
plex industrial processes of to-day, the individual must 
be endowed with the aptitude and the habit of readily 
apprehending and relating facts in terms of causal 
sequence. Both as a whole and in its details, the in- 
dustrial process is a process of quantitative causation. 
The "intelligence" demanded of the workman, as well as 
of the director of an industrial process, is little else than 

The Belief in Luck 283 

a degree of facility in the apprehension of and adapta- 
tion to a quantitatively determined causal sequence. 
This facility of apprehension and adaptation is what 
is lacking in stupid workmen, and the growth of this 
facility is the end sought in their education so far 
as their education aims to enhance their industrial 

In so far as the individual's inherited aptitudes or his 
training incline him to account for facts and sequences 
in other terms than those of causation or matter-of-fact, 
they lower his productive efficiency or industrial useful- 
ness. This lowering of efficiency through a penchant 
for animistic methods of apprehending facts is especially 
apparent when taken in the mass when a given popu- 
lation with an animistic turn is viewed as a whole. 
The economic drawbacks of animism are more patent 
and its consequences are more far-reaching under the 
modern system of large industry than under any other. 
In the modern industrial communities, industry is, to a 
constantly increasing extent, being organised in a com- 
prehensive system of organs and functions mutually 
conditioning one another ; and therefore freedom from 
all bias in the causal apprehension of phenomena grows 
constantly more requisite to efficiency on the part of 
the men concerned in industry. Under a system of 
handicraft an advantage in dexterity, diligence, muscu- 
lar force, or endurance may, in a very large measure, 
offset such a bias in the habits of thought of the work- 

Similarly in agricultural industry of the traditional 
kind, which closely resembles handicraft in the nature 

284 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

of the demands made upon the workman. In both, the 
workman is himself the prime mover chiefly depended 
upon, and the natural forces engaged are in large part 
apprehended as inscrutable and fortuitous agencies, 
whose working lies beyond the workman's control or 
discretion. In popular apprehension there is in these 
forms of industry relatively little of the industrial pro- 
cess left to the fateful swing of a comprehensive me- 
chanical sequence which must be comprehended in terms 
of causation and to which the operations of industry and 
the movements of the workmen must be adapted. As 
industrial methods develop, the virtues of the handi- 
craftsman count for less and less as an offset to scanty 
intelligence or a halting acceptance of the sequence of 
cause and effect. The industrial organisation assumes 
more and more of the character of a mechanism, in 
which it is man's office to discriminate and select what 
natural forces shall work out their effects in his service. 
The workman's part in industry changes from that of 
a prime mover to that of discrimination and valuation 
of quantitative sequences and mechanical facts. The 
faculty of a ready apprehension and unbiassed appreci- 
ation of causes in his environment grows in relative 
economic importance, and any element in the complex 
of his habits of thought which intrudes a bias at vari- 
ance with this ready appreciation of matter-of-fact 
sequence gains proportionately in importance as a dis- 
turbing element acting to lower his industrial useful- 
ness. Through its cumulative effect upon the habitual 
attitude of the population, even a slight or inconspic- 
uous bias towards accounting for everyday facts by 

The Belief in L^^ck 285 

recourse to other ground than that of quantitative 
causation may work an appreciable lowering of the 
collective industrial efficiency of a community. 

The animistic habit of mind may occur in the early, 
undifferentiated form of an inchoate animistic belief, or 
in the later and more highly integrated phase in which 
there is an anthropomorphic personification of the pro- 
pensity imputed to facts. The industrial value of such 
a lively animistic sense, or of such recourse to a preter- 
natural agency or the guidance of an unseen hand, is of 
course very much the same in either case. As affects 
the industrial serviceability of the individual, the effect 
is of the same kind in either case ; but the extent to 
which this habit of thought dominates or shapes the 
complex of his habits of thought varies with the degree 
of immediacy, urgency, or exclusiveness with which the 
individual habitually applies the animistic or anthropo- 
morphic formula in dealing with the facts of his environ- 
ment. The animistic habit acts in all cases to blur the 
appreciation of causal sequence ; but the earlier, less 
reflected, less defined animistic sense of propensity may 
be expected to affect the intellectual processes of the 
individual in a more pervasive way than the higher 
forms of anthropomorphism. Where the animistic habit 
is present in the naive form, its scope and range of 
application are not defined or limited. It will therefore 
palpably affect his thinking at every turn of the per- 
son's life wherever he has to do with the material 
means of life. In the later, maturer development of 
animism, after it has been defined through the process 
of anthropomorphic elaboration, when its application has 

286 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

been limited in a somewhat consistent fashion to the 
remote and the invisible, it comes about that an increas- 
ing range of everyday facts are provisionally accounted 
for without recourse to the preternatural agency in 
which a cultivated animism expresses itself. A highly 
integrated, personified preternatural agency is not a con- 
venient means of handling the trivial occurrences of life, 
and a habit is therefore easily fallen into of accounting 
for many trivial or vulgar phenomena in terms of 
sequence. The provisional explanation so arrived at is 
by neglect allowed to stand as definitive, for trivial pur- 
poses, until special provocation or perplexity recalls the 
individual to his allegiance. But when special exigen- 
cies arise, that is to say, when there is peculiar need of 
a full and free recourse to the law of cause and effect, 
then the individual commonly has recourse to the pre- 
ternatural agency as a universal solvent, if he is pos- 
sessed of an anthropomorphic belief. 

The extra-causal propensity or agent has a very high 
utility as a recourse in perplexity, but its utility is alto- 
gether of a non-economic kind. It is especially a refuge 
and a fund of comfort where it has attained the degree 
of consistency and specialisation that belongs to an an- 
thropomorphic divinity. It has much to commend it even 
on other grounds than that of affording the perplexed 
individual a means of escape from the difficulty of 
accounting for phenomena in terms of causal sequence. 
It would scarcely be in place here to dwell on the obvi- 
ous and well-accepted merits of an anthropomorphic 
divinity, as seen from the point of view of the aesthetic, 
moral, or spiritual interest, or even as seen from the 

The Belief in Luck 287 

less remote standpoint of political, military, or social 
policy. The question here concerns the less picturesque 
and less urgent economic value of the belief in such a 
preternatural agency, taken as a habit of thought which 
affects the industrial serviceability of the believer. And 
even within this narrow, economic range, the inquiry is 
perforce confined to the immediate bearing of this habit 
of thought upon the believer's workmanlike service- 
ability, rather than extended to include its remoter eco- 
nomic effects. These remoter effects are very difficult 
to trace. The inquiry into them is so encumbered with 
current preconceptions as to the degree in which life is 
enhanced by spiritual contact with such a divinity, that 
any attempt to inquire into their economic value must 
for the present be fruitless. 

The immediate, direct effect of the animistic habit of 
thought upon the general frame of mind of the believer 
goes in the direction of lowering his effective intelli- 
gence in the respect in which intelligence is of especial 
consetjuence for modern industry. The effect follows, 
in varying degree, whether the preternatural agent or 
propensity believed in is of a higher or a lower cast. 
This holds true of the barbarian's and the sporting man's 
sense of luck and propensity, and likewise of the some- 
what higher developed belief in an anthropomorphic 
divinity, such as is commonly possessed by the same 
class. It must be taken to hold true also though 
with what relative degree of cogency is not easy to say 
of the more adequately developed anthropomorphic 
cults, such as appeal to the devout civilised man. The 
industrial disability entailed by a popular adherence to 

288 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

one of the higher anthropomorphic cults may be rela- 
tively slight, but it is not to be overlooked. And even 
these high-class cults of the Western culture do not rep- 
resent the last dissolving phase of this human sense of 
extra-causal propensity. Beyond these the same ani- 
mistic sense shows itself also in such attenuations of 
anthropomorphism as the eighteenth-century appeal to 
an order of nature and natural rights, and in their mod- 
ern representative, the ostensibly post-Darwinian con- 
cept of a meliorative trend in the process of evolution. 
This animistic explanation of phenomena is a form of 
the fallacy which the logicians knew by the name of 
ignava ratio. For the purposes of industry or of sci- 
ence it counts as a blunder in the apprehension and 
valuation of facts. 

Apart from its direct industrial consequences, the 
animistic habit has a certain significance for economic 
theory on other grounds, (i) It is a fairly reliable in- 
dication of the presence, and to some extent even of the 
degree of potency, of certain other archaic traits that 
accompany it and that are of substantial economic con- 
sequence ; and (2) the material consequences of that 
code of devout proprieties to which the animistic habit 
gives rise in the development of an anthropomorphic 
cult are of importance both (a) as affecting the com- 
munity's consumption of goods and the prevalent canons 
of taste, as already suggested in an earlier chapter, and 
(b) in inducing and conserving a certain habitual recog- 
nition of the relation to a superior, and so stiffening the 
current sense of status and allegiance. 

As regards the point last named (), that body of 

The Belief in Luck 289 

habits of thought which makes up the character of any 
individual is in some sense an organic whole. A marked 
variation in a given direction at any one point carries 
with it, as its correlative, a concomitant variation in the 
habitual expression of life in other directions or other 
groups of activities. These various habits of thought, 
or habitual expressions of life, are all phases of the 
single life sequence of the individual ; therefore a habit 
formed in response to a given stimulus will necessarily 
affect the character of the response made to other 
stimuli. A modification of human nature at any one 
point is a modification of human nature as a whole. On 
this ground, and perhaps to a still greater extent on 
obscurer grounds that can not be discussed here, there 
are these concomitant variations as between the differ- 
ent traits of human nature. So, for instance, barbarian 
peoples with a well-developed predatory scheme of life 
are commonly also possessed of a strong prevailing ani- 
mistic habit, a well-formed anthropomorphic cult, and a 
lively sense of status. On the other hand, anthropo- 
morphism and the realising sense of an animistic pro- 
pensity in material things are less obtrusively present 
in the life of the peoples at the cultural stages which 
precede and which follow the barbarian culture. The 
sense of status is also feebler, on the whole, in peace- 
able communities. It is to be remarked that a lively, 
but slightly specialised, animistic belief is to be found 
in most if not all peoples living in the ante-predatory, 
savage stage of culture. The primitive savage takes 
his animism less seriously than the barbarian or the 
degenerate savage. With him it eventuates in fantastic 

290 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

myth-making, rather than in coercive superstition. The 
barbarian culture shows sportsmanship, status, and an- 
thropomorphism. There is commonly observable a like 
concomitance of variations in the same respects in 
the individual temperament of men in the civilised 
communities of to-day. Those modern representatives 
of the predaceous barbarian temper that make up the 
sporting element are commonly believers in luck ; at 
least they have a strong sense of an animistic pro- 
pensity in things, by force of which they are given to 
gambling. So also as regards anthropomorphism in 
this class. Such of them as give in their adhesion to 
some creed commonly attach themselves to one of the 
naively and consistently anthropomorphic creeds ; there 
are relatively few sporting men who seek spiritual com- 
fort in the less anthropomorphic cults, such as the 
Unitarian or the Universalist. 

Closely bound up with this correlation of anthropo- 
morphism and prowess is the fact that anthropomorphic 
cults act to conserve, if not to initiate, habits of mind 
favourable to a regime of status. As regards this point, 
it is quite impossible to say where the disciplinary effect 
of the cult ends and where the evidence of a concomi- 
tance of variations in inherited traits begins. In their 
finest development, the predatory temperament, the 
sense of status, and the anthropomorphic cult all to- 
gether belong to the barbarian culture ; and something 
of a mutual causal relation subsists between the three 
phenomena as they come into sight in communities on 
that cultural level. The way in which they recur in 
correlation in the habits and aptitudes of individuals 

The Belief in Lttck 291 

and classes to-day goes far to imply a like causal or 
organic relation between the same psychological phe- 
nomena considered as traits or habits of the individual. 
It has appeared at an earlier point in the discussion 
that the relation of status, as a feature of social struct- 
ure, is a consequence of the predatory habit of life. 
As regards its line of derivation, it is substantially an 
elaborated expression of the predatory attitude. On 
the other hand, an anthropomorphic cult is a code of 
detailed relations of status superimposed upon the con- 
cept of a preternatural, inscrutable propensity in mate- 
rial things. So that, as regards the external facts of 
its derivation, the cult may be taken as an outgrowth 
of archaic man's pervading animistic sense, defined and 
in some degree transformed by the predatory habit of 
life, the result being a personified preternatural agency, 
which is by imputation endowed with a full complement 
of the habits of thought that characterise the man of 
the predatory culture. 

The grosser psychological features in the case, which 
have an immediate bearing on economic theory and 
are consequently to be taken account of here, are 
therefore : (a) as has appeared in an earlier chapter, 
the predatory, emulative habit of mind here called 
prowess is but the barbarian variant of the generically 
human instinct of workmanship, which has fallen into 
this specific form under the guidance of a habit of 
invidious comparison of persons; (b) the relation of 
status is a formal expression of such an invidious 
comparison duly gauged and graded according to a 
sanctioned schedule ; (V) an anthropomorphic cult, in 

292 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

the days of its early vigour at least, is an institution the 
characteristic element of which is a relation of status 
between the human subject as inferior and the personi- 
fied preternatural agency as superior. With this in mind, 
there should be no difficulty in recognising the intimate 
relation which subsists between these three phenomena 
of human nature and of human life ; the relation 
amounts to an identity in some of their substantial 
elements. On the one hand, the system of status and 
the predatory habit of life are an expression of the 
instinct of workmanship as it takes form under a 
custom of invidious comparison ; on the other hand, 
the anthropomorphic cult and the habit of devout 
observances are an expression of men's animistic sense 
of a propensity in material things, elaborated under the 
guidance of substantially the same general habit of 
invidious comparison. The two categories the emu- 
lative habit of life and the habit of devout observances 
are therefore to be taken as complementary elements 
of the barbarian type of human nature and of its 
modern barbarian variants. They are expressions of 
much the same range of aptitudes, made in response to 
different sets of stimuli. 



A DISCURSIVE rehearsal of certain incidents of modern 
life will show the organic relation of the anthropomor- 
phic cults to the barbarian culture and temperament. 
It will likewise serve to show how the survival and 
efficacy of the cults and the prevalence of their sched- 
ule of devout observances are related to the institution 
of a leisure class and to the springs of action underly- 
ing that institution. Without any intention to com- 
mend or to deprecate the practices to be spoken of 
under the head of devout observances, or the spiritual 
and intellectual traits of which these observances are 
the expression, the everyday phenomena of current 
anthropomorphic cults may be taken up from the point 
of view of the interest which they have for economic 
theory. What can properly be spoken of here are the 
tangible, external features of devout observances. The 
moral, as well as the devotional value of the life of 
faith lies outside of the scope of the present inquiry. 
Of course no question is here entertained as to the 
truth or beauty of the creeds on which the cults pro- 
ceed. And even their remoter economic bearing can 
not be taken up here ; the subject is too recondite 
and of too grave import to find a place in so slight a 


294 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

Something has been said in an earlier chapter as to 
the influence which pecuniary standards of value exert 
upon the processes of valuation carried out on other 
bases, not related to the pecuniary interest. The rela- 
tion is not altogether one-sided. The economic stand- 
ards or canons of valuation are in their turn influenced 
by extra-economic standards of value. Our judgments 
of the economic bearing of facts are to some extent 
shaped by the dominant presence of these weightier 
interests. There is a point of view, indeed, from which 
the economic interest is of weight only as being 
ancillary to these higher, non-economic interests. For 
the present purpose, therefore, some thought must be 
taken to isolate the economic interest or the economic 
bearing of these phenomena of anthropomorphic cults. 
It takes some effort to divest oneself of the more 
serious point of view, and to reach an economic appre- 
ciation of these facts, with as little as may be of the 
bias due to higher interests extraneous to economic 

In the discussion of the sporting temperament, it 
has appeared that the sense of an animistic propensity 
in material things and events is what affords the 
spiritual basis of the sporting man's gambling habit. 
For the economic purpose, this sense of propensity is 
substantially the same psychological element as ex- 
presses itself, under a variety of forms, in animistic 
beliefs and anthropomorphic creeds. So far as con- 
cerns those tangible psychological features with which 
economic theory has to deal, the gambling spirit which 

Devout Observances 29$ 

pervades the sporting element shades off by insensible 
gradations into that frame of mind which finds gratifi- 
cation in devout observances. As seen from the point 
of view of economic theory, the sporting character 
shades off into the character of a religious devotee. 
Where the betting man's animistic sense is helped out 
by a somewhat consistent tradition, it has developed 
into a more or less articulate belief in a preternatural 
or hyperphysical agency, with something of an anthro- 
pomorphic content. And where this is the case, there 
is commonly a perceptible inclination to make terms 
with the preternatural agency by some approved method 
of approach and conciliation. This element of propitia- 
tion and cajoling has much in common with the crasser 
forms of worship if not in historical derivation, at least 
in actual psychological content. It obviously shades off 
in unbroken continuity into what is recognised as 
superstitious practice and belief, and so asserts its 
claim to kinship with the grosser anthropomorphic cults. 
The sporting or gambling temperament, then, com- 
prises some of the substantial psychological elements 
that go to make a believer in creeds and an observer 
of devout forms, the chief point of coincidence being 
the belief in an inscrutable propensity or a preternatural 
interposition in the sequence of events. For the pur- 
pose of the gambling practice the belief in preter- 
natural agency may be, and ordinarily is, less closely 
formulated, especially as regards the habits of thought 
and the scheme of life imputed to the preternatural 
agent ; or, in other words, as regards his moral char- 
acter and his purposes in interfering in events. With 

296 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

respect to the individuality or personality of the 
agency whose presence as luck, or chance, or hoodoo, 
or mascot, etc., he feels and sometimes dreads and 
endeavours to evade, the sporting man's views are also 
less specific, less integrated and differentiated. The 
basis of his gambling activity is, in great measure, 
simply an instinctive sense of the presence of a per- 
vasive extraphysical and arbitrary force or propensity 
in things or situations, which is scarcely recognised 
as a personal agent. The betting man is not infre- 
quently both a believer in luck, in this naive sense, 
and at the same time a pretty staunch adherent of 
some form of accepted creed. He is especially prone 
to accept so much of the creed as concerns the inscru- 
table power and the arbitrary habits of the divinity 
which has won his confidence. In such a case he is 
possessed of two, or sometimes more than two, distin- 
guishable phases of animism. Indeed, the complete 
series of successive phases of animistic belief is to be 
found unbroken in the spiritual furniture of any sport- 
ing community. Such a chain of animistic conceptions 
will comprise the most elementary form of an instinc- 
tive sense of luck and chance and fortuitous necessity 
at one end of the series, together with the perfectly 
developed anthropomorphic divinity at the other end, 
with all intervening stages of integration. Coupled 
with these beliefs in preternatural agency goes an 
instinctive shaping of conduct to conform with the 
surmised requirements of the lucky chance on the one 
hand, and a more or less devout submission to the 
inscrutable decrees of the divinity on the other hand. 

Devout Observances 297 

There is a relationship in this respect between the 
sporting temperament and the temperament of the de- 
linquent classes ; and the two are related to the tempera- 
ment which inclines to an anthropomorphic cult. Both 
the delinquent and the sporting man are on an average 
more apt to be adherents of some accredited creed, and 
are also rather more inclined to devout observances, than 
the general average of the community. It is also notice- 
able that unbelieving members of these classes show 
more of a proclivity to become proselytes to some ac- 
credited faith than the average of unbelievers. This 
fact of observation is avowed by the spokesmen of 
sports, especially in apologising for the more naively 
predatory athletic sports. Indeed, it is somewhat in- 
sistently claimed as a meritorious feature of sporting 
life that the habitual participants in athletic games 
are in some degree peculiarly given to devout prac- 
tices. And it is observable that the cult to which 
sporting men and the predaceous delinquent classes 
adhere, or to which proselytes from these classes com- 
monly attach themselves, is ordinarily not one of the 
so-called higher faiths, but a cult which has to do with 
a thoroughly anthropomorphic divinity. Archaic, pred- 
atory human nature is not satisfied with abstruse con- 
ceptions of a dissolving personality that shades off into 
the concept of quantitative causal sequence, such as the 
speculative, esoteric creeds of Christendom impute to 
the First Cause, Universal Intelligence, World Soul, or 
Spiritual Aspect. As an instance of a cult of the char- 
acter which the habits of mind of the athlete and the 
delinquent require, may be cited that branch of the 

298 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

church militant known as the Salvation Army. This 
is to some extent recruited from the lower-class delin- 
quents, and it appears to comprise also, among its 
officers especially, a larger proportion of men with a 
sporting record than the proportion of such men in 
the aggregate population of the community. 

College athletics afford a case in point. It is con- 
tended by exponents of the devout element in college 
life and there seems to be no ground for disputing 
the claim that the desirable athletic material afforded 
by any student body in this country is at the same time 
predominantly religious ; or that it is at least given to 
devout observances to a greater degree than the average 
of those students whose interest in athletics and other 
college sports is less. This is what might be expected 
on theoretical grounds. It may be remarked, by the 
way, that from one point of view this is felt to reflect 
credit on the college sporting life, on athletic games, 
and on those persons who occupy themselves with these 
matters. It happens not infrequently that college sport- 
ing men devote themselves to the religious propaganda, 
either as a vocation or as a by-occupation ; and it is 
observable that when this happens they are likely to 
become propagandists of some one of the more anthro- 
pomorphic cults. In their teaching they are apt to 
insist chiefly on the personal relation of status which 
subsists between an anthropomorphic divinity and the 
human subject. 

This intimate relation between athletics and devout 
observance among college men is a fact of sufficient 
notoriety ; but it has a special feature to which atten- 

Devout Observances 299 

tion has not been called, although it is obvious enough. 
The religious zeal which pervades much of the college 
sporting element is especially prone to express itself in 
an unquestioning devoutness and a naive and compla- 
cent submission to an inscrutable Providence. It there- 
fore by preference seeks affiliation with some one of 
those lay religious organisations which occupy them- 
selves with the spread of the exoteric forms of the faith, 
as, e.g., the Young Men's Christian Association or the 
Young People's Society for Christian Endeavour. These 
lay bodies are organised to further " practical " religion ; 
and as if to enforce the argument and firmly establish 
the close relationship between the sporting tempera- 
ment and the archaic devoutness, these lay religious 
bodies commonly devote some appreciable portion of 
their energies to the furtherance of athletic contests 
and similar games of chance and skill. It might even 
be said that sports of this kind are apprehended to have 
some efficacy as a means of grace. They are appar- 
ently useful as a means of proselyting, and as a means 
of sustaining the devout attitude in converts once made. 
That is to say, the games which give exercise to the 
animistic sense and to the emulative propensity help 
to form and to conserve that habit of mind to which 
the more exoteric cults are congenial. Hence, in the 
hands of the lay organisations, these sporting activities 
come to do duty as a novitiate or a means of induction 
into that fuller unfolding of the life of spiritual status 
which is the privilege of the full communicant alone. 

That the exercise of the emulative and lower ani- 
mistic proclivities are substantially useful for the 

300 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

devout purpose seems to be placed beyond question 
by the fact that the priesthood of many denominations 
is following the lead of the lay organisations in this 
respect. Those ecclesiastical organisations especially 
which stand nearest the lay organisations in their 
insistence on practical religion have gone some way 
towards adopting these or analogous practices in con- 
nection with the traditional devout observances. So 
there are "boys' brigades," and other organisations, 
under clerical sanction, acting to develop the emulative 
proclivity and the sense of status in the youthful 
members of the congregation. These pseudo-military 
organisations tend to elaborate and accentuate the pro- 
clivity to emulation and invidious comparison, and so 
strengthen the native facility for discerning and approv- 
ing the relation of personal mastery and subservience. 
And a believer is eminently a person who knows how 
to obey and accept chastisement with good grace. 

But the habits of thought which these practices 
foster and conserve make up but one-half of the sub- 
stance of the anthropomorphic cults. The other, com- 
plementary element of devout life the animistic habit 
of mind is recruited and conserved by a second 
range of practices organised under clerical sanction. 
These are the class of gambling practices of which 
the church bazaar or raffle may be taken as the type. 
As indicating the degree of legitimacy of these prac- 
tices in connection with devout observances proper, it 
is to be remarked that these raffles, and the like trivial 
opportunities for gambling, seem to appeal with more 
effect to the common run of the members of religious 

Devout Observances 301 

organisations than they do to persons of a less devout 
habit of mind. 

All this seems to argue, on the one hand, that the 
same temperament inclines people to sports as inclines 
them to the anthropomorphic cults, and on the other 
hand that the habituation to sports, perhaps especially 
to athletic sports, acts to develop the propensities 
which find satisfaction in devout observances. Con- 
versely ; it also appears that habituation to these obser- 
vances favours the growth of a proclivity for athletic 
sports and for all games that give play to the habit of 
invidious comparison and of the appeal to luck. Sub- 
stantially the same range of propensities finds expres- 
sion in both these directions of the spiritual life. That 
barbarian human nature in which the predatory instinct 
and the animistic standpoint predominate is normally 
prone to both. The predatory habit of mind involves 
an accentuated sense of personal dignity and of the 
relative standing of individuals. The social structure 
in which the predatory habit has been the dominant 
factor in the shaping of institutions is a structure based 
on status. The pervading norm in the predatory com- 
munity's scheme of life is the relation of superior and 
inferior, noble and base, dominant and subservient per- 
sons and classes, master and slave. The anthropo- 
morphic cults have come down from that stage of 
industrial development and have been shaped by the 
same scheme of economic differentiation, a differen- 
tiation into consumer and producer, and they are 
pervaded by the same dominant principle of mastery 
and subservience. The cults impute to their divinity 

302 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

the habits of thought answering to the stage of eco- 
nomic differentiation at which the cults took shape. 
The anthropomorphic divinity is conceived to be punc- 
tilious in all questions of precedence and is prone to 
an assertion of mastery and an arbitrary exercise of 
power an habitual resort to force as the final arbiter. 
In the later and maturer formulations of the anthro- 
pomorphic creed this imputed habit of dominance on 
the part of a divinity of awful presence and inscrutable 
power is chastened into "the fatherhood of God." The 
spiritual attitude and the aptitudes imputed to the pre- 
ternatural agent are still such as belong under the 
regime of status, but they now assume the patriarchal 
cast characteristic of the quasi-peaceable stage of cul- 
ture. Still it is to be noted that even in this advanced 
phase of the cult the observances in which devoutness 
finds expression consistently aim to propitiate the 
divinity by extolling his greatness and glory and by 
professing subservience and fealty. The act of pro- 
pitiation or of worship is designed to appeal to a sense 
of status imputed to the inscrutable power that is thus 
approached. The propitiatory formulas most in vogue 
are still such as carry or imply an invidious compari- 
son. A loyal attachment to the person of an anthro- 
pomorphic divinity endowed with such an archaic 
human nature implies the like archaic propensities in 
the devotee. For the purposes of economic theory, 
the relation of fealty, whether to a physical or to an 
extraphysical person, is to be taken as a variant of that 
personal subservience which makes up so large a share 
of the predatory and the quasi-peaceable scheme of life. 

Devout Observances 303 

The barbarian conception of the divinity, as a warlike 
chieftain inclined to an overbearing manner of govern- 
ment, has been greatly softened through the milder 
manners and the soberer habits of life that characterise 
those cultural phases which lie between the early preda- 
tory stage and the present. But even after this chasten 
ing of the devout fancy, and the consequent mitigation 
of the harsher traits of conduct and character that are 
currently imputed to the divinity, there still remains in 
the popular apprehension of the divine nature and tem- 
perament a very substantial residue of the barbarian 
conception. So it comes about, for instance, that in 
characterising the divinity and his relations to the pro- 
cess of human life, speakers and writers are still able to 
make effective use of similes borrowed from the vocabu- 
lary of war and of the predatory manner of life, as well 
as of locutions which involve an invidious comparison. 
Figures of speech of this import are used with good 
effect even in addressing the less warlike modern audi- 
ences, made up of adherents of the blander variants of 
the creed. This effective use of barbarian epithets and 
terms of comparison by popular speakers argues that 
the modern generation has retained a lively appreciation 
of the dignity and merit of the barbarian virtues ; and it 
argues also that there is a degree of congruity between 
the devout attitude and the predatory habit of mind. 
It is only on second thought, if at all, that the devout 
fancy of modern worshippers revolts at the imputation of 
ferocious and vengeful emotions and actions to the object 
of their adoration. It is a matter of common obser- 
vation that sanguinary epithets applied to the divinit) 

304 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

have a high aesthetic and honorific value in the popular 
apprehension. That is to say, suggestions which these 
epithets carry are very acceptable to our unreflecting 

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord ; 

He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are 

stored ; 
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of his terrible swift sword ; 

His truth is marching on. 

The guiding habits of thought of a devout person 
move on the plane of an archaic scheme of life which 
has outlived much of its usefulness for the economic 
exigencies of the collective life of to-day. In so far as 
the economic organisation fits the exigencies of the 
collective life of to-day, it has outlived the regime of 
status, and has no use and no place for a relation of 
personal subserviency. So far as concerns the eco- 
nomic efficiency of the community, the sentiment of 
personal fealty, and the general habit of mind of which 
that sentiment is an expression, are survivals which 
cumber the ground and hinder an adequate adjustment 
of human institutions to the existing situation. The 
habit of mind which best lends itself to the purposes of 
a peaceable, industrial community, is that matter-of-fact 
temper which recognises the value of material facts 
simply as opaque items in the mechanical sequence. 
It is that frame of mind which does not instinctively 
impute an animistic propensity to things, nor resort to 
preternatural intervention as an explanation of perplex- 
ing phenomena, nor depend on an unseen hand to shape 
the course of events to human use. To meet the re- 

Devout Observances 305 

quirements of the highest economic efficiency under 
modern conditions, the world process must habitually 
be apprehended in terms of quantitative, dispassionate 
force and sequence. 

As seen from the point of view of the later economic 
exigencies, devoutness is, perhaps in all cases, to be 
looked upon as a survival from an earlier phase of 
associated life a mark of arrested spiritual develop- 
ment. Of course it remains true that in a community 
where the economic structure is still substantially a 
system of status ; where the attitude of the average of 
persons in the community is consequently shaped by 
and adapted to the relation of personal dominance and 
personal subservience ; or where for any other reason 
of tradition or of inherited aptitude the population as 
a whole is strongly inclined to devout observances ; there 
a devout habit of mind in any individual, not in excess 
of the average of the community, must be taken simply 
as a detail of the prevalent habit of life. In this light, 
a devout individual in a devout community can not be 
called a case of reversion, since he is abreast of the 
average of the community. But as seen from the point 
of view of the modern industrial situation, exceptional 
devoutness devotional zeal that rises appreciably 
above the average pitch of devoutness in the com- 
munity may safely be set down as in all cases an 
atavistic trait. 

It is, of course, equally legitimate to consider these 
phenomena from a different point of view. They may 
be appreciated for a different purpose, and the charac- 
terisation here offered may be turned about. In speak- 

306 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

ing from the point of view of the devotional interest, ot 
the interest of devout taste, it may, with equal cogency, 
be said that the spiritual attitude bred in men by the 
modern industrial life is unfavourable to a free develop- 
ment of the life of faith. It might fairly be objected 
to the later development of the industrial process that 
its discipline tends to " materialism," to the elimination 
of filial piety. From the aesthetic point of view, again, 
something to a similar purport might be said. But, 
however legitimate and valuable these and the like re- 
flections may be for their purpose, they would not be in 
place in the present inquiry, which is exclusively con- 
cerned with the valuation of these phenomena from the 
economic point of view. 

The grave economic significance of the anthropomor- 
phic habit of mind and of the addiction to devout 
observances must serve as apology for speaking further 
on a topic which it can not but be distasteful to discuss 
at all as an economic phenomenon in a community so 
devout as ours. Devout observances are of economic 
importance as an index of a concomitant variation of 
temperament, accompanying the predatory habit of 
mind and so indicating the presence of industrially 
disserviceable traits. They indicate the presence of a 
mental attitude which has a certain economic value of 
its own by virtue of its influence upon the industrial 
serviceability of the individual. But they are also of 
importance more directly, in modifying the economic 
activities of the community, especially as regards the 
distribution and consumption of goods. 

The most obvious economic bearing of these observ- 

Devout Observances 307 

ances is seen in the devout consumption of goods and 
services. The consumption of ceremonial paraphernalia 
required by any cult, in the way of shrines, temples, 
churches, vestments, sacrifices, sacraments, holiday 
attire, etc., serves no immediate material end. All this 
material apparatus may, therefore, without implying 
deprecation, be broadly characterised as items of con- 
spicuous waste. The like is true in a general way of 
the personal service consumed under this head ; such as 
priestly education, priestly service, pilgrimages, fasts, 
holidays, household devotions, and the like. At the 
same time the observances in the execution of which 
this consumption takes place serve to extend and pro- 
tract the vogue of those habits of thought on which an 
anthropomorphic cult rests. That is to say, they fur- 
ther the habits of thought characteristic of the regime 
of status. They are in so far an obstruction to the 
most effective organisation of industry under modern 
circumstances ; and are, in the first instance, antagonis- 
tic to the development of economic institutions in the 
direction required by the situation of to-day. For the 
present purpose, the indirect as well as the direct effects 
of this consumption are of the nature of a curtailment 
of the community's economic efficiency. In economic 
theory, then, and considered in its proximate conse- 
quences, the consumption of goods and effort in the 
service of an anthropomorphic divinity means a lowering 
of the vitality of the community. What may be the 
remoter, indirect, moral effects of this class of con- 
sumption does not admit of a succinct answer, and it 
is a question which can not be taken up here. 

308 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

It will be to the point, however, to note the general 
economic character of devout consumption, in compari- 
son with consumption for other purposes. An indica- 
tion of the range of motives and purposes from which 
devout consumption of goods proceeds will help toward 
an appreciation of the value both of this consumption 
itself and of the general habit of mind to which it is 
congenial. There is a striking parallelism, if not rather 
a substantial identity of motive, between the consump- 
tion which goes to the service of an anthropomorphic 
divinity and that which goes to the service of a gentle- 
man of leisure a chieftain or patriarch in the upper 
class of society during the barbarian culture. Both in 
the case of the chieftain and in that of the divinity 
there are expensive edifices set apart for the behoof of 
the person served. These edifices, as well as the prop- 
erties which supplement them in the service, must not 
be common in kind or grade ; they always show a large 
element of conspicuous waste. It may also be noted 
that the devout edifices are invariably of an archaic cast 
in their structure and fittings. So also the servants, 
both of the chieftain and of the divinity, must appear in 
the presence clothed in garments of a special, ornate 
character. The characteristic economic feature of this 
apparel is a more than ordinarily accentuated conspicu- 
ous waste, together with the secondary feature more 
accentuated in the case of the priestly servants than in 
that of the servants or courtiers of the barbarian poten- 
tate that this court dress must always be in some 
degree of an archaic fashion. Also the garments worn 
by the lay members of the community when they come 

Devout Observances 309 

into the presence, should be of a more expensive kind 
than their everyday apparel. Here, again, the parallel- 
ism between the usage of the chieftain's audience hall 
and that of the sanctuary is fairly well marked. In this 
respect there is required a certain ceremonial " clean- 
ness " of attire, the essential feature of which, in the 
economic respect, is that the garments worn on these 
occasions should carry as little suggestion as may be of 
any industrial occupation or of any habitual addiction 
to such employments as are of material use. 

This requirement of conspicuous waste and of cere- 
monial cleanness from the traces of industry extends 
also to the apparel, and in a less degree to the food, 
which is consumed on sacred holidays ; that is to say, 
on days set apart tabu for the divinity or for some 
member of the lower ranks of the preternatural leisure 
class. In economic theory, 'sacred holidays are ob- 
viously to be construed as a season of vicarious leisure 
performed for the divinity or saint in whose name the 
tabu is imposed and to whose good repute the absten- 
tion from useful effort on these days is conceived to 
inure. The characteristic feature of all such seasons of 
devout vicarious leisure is a more or less rigid tabu on 
all activity that is of human use. In the case of fast- 
days the conspicuous abstention from gainful occupa- 
tions and from all pursuits that (materially) further 
human life is further accentuated by compulsory absti- 
nence from such consumption as would conduce to the 
comfort or the fulness of life of the consumer. 

It may be remarked, parenthetically, that secular 
holidays are of the same origin, by slightly remoter de- 

3IO The Theory of the Leisure Class 

rivation. They shade off by degrees from the gen- 
uinely sacred days, through an intermediate class of 
semi-sacred birthdays of kings and great men who have 
been in some measure canonised, to the deliberately 
invented holiday set apart to further the good repute of 
some notable event or some striking fact, to which it is 
intended to do honour, or the good fame of which is felt 
to be in need of repair. This remoter refinement in 
the employment of vicarious leisure as a means of aug- 
menting the good repute of a phenomenon or datum is 
seen at its best in its very latest application. A day of 
vicarious leisure has in some communities been set 
apart as Labour Day. This observance is designed to 
augment the prestige of the fact of labour, by the 
archaic, predatory method of a compulsory abstention 
from useful effort. To this datum of labour-in-general 
te imputed the good repute attributable to the pecuni- 
ary strength put in evidence by abstaining from labour. 

Sacred holidays, and holidays generally, are of the 
nature of a tribute levied on the body of the people. 
/The tribute is paid in vicarious leisure, and the hono- 
rific effect which emerges is imputed to the person or 
the fact for whose good repute the holiday has been 
instituted. Such a tithe of vicarious leisure is a per- 
quisite of all members of the preternatural leisure class 
and is indispensable to their good fame. Un saint 
quon ne chdme pas is indeed a saint fallen on evil days. 

Besides this tithe of vicarious leisure levied on the 
laity, there are also special classes of persons the 
various grades of priests and hierodules whose time 
is wholly set apart for a similar service. It is not only 

Devout Observances 311 

incumbent on the priestly class to abstain from vulgar 
labour, especially so far as it is lucrative or is appre- 
hended to contribute to the temporal well-being of man- 
kind. The tabu in the case of the priestly class goes 
farther and adds a refinement in the form of an injunc- 
tion against their seeking worldly gain even where it 
may be had without debasing application to industry. 
It is felt to be unworthy of the servant of the divinity, 
or rather unworthy the dignity of the divinity whose 
servant he is, that he should seek material gain or take 
thought for temporal matters. "Of all contemptible 
things a man who pretends to be a priest of God and is 
a priest to his own comforts and ambitions is the most 

There is a line of discrimination, which a cultivated 
taste in matters of devout observance finds little diffi- 
culty in drawing, between such actions and conduct as 
conduce to the fulness of human life and such as con- 
duce to the good fame of the anthropomorphic divinity ; 
and the activity of the priestly class, in the ideal bar- 
barian scheme, falls wholly on the hither side of this 
line. What falls within the range of economics falls 
below the proper level of solicitude of the priesthood in 
its best estate. Such apparent exceptions to this rule 
as are afforded, for instance, by some of the mediaeval 
orders of monks (the members of which actually la- 
boured to some useful end), scarcely impugn the rule. 
These outlying orders of the priestly class are not a 
sacerdotal element in the full sense of the term. And 
it is noticeable also that these doubtfully sacerdotal 
orders, which countenanced their members in earning a 

312 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

living, fell into disrepute through offending the sense of 
propriety in the communities where they existed. 

The priest should not put his hand to mechanically 
productive work ; but he should consume in large meas- 
ure. But even as regards his consumption it is to be 
noted that it should take such forms as do not obviously 
conduce to his own comfort or fulness of life ; it should 
conform to the rules governing vicarious consumption, 
as explained under that head in an earlier chapter. It 
is not ordinarily in good form for the priestly class to 
appear well fed or in hilarious spirits. Indeed, in many 
of the more elaborate cults the injunction against other 
than vicarious consumption by this class frequently 
goes so far as to enjoin mortification of the flesh. And 
even in those modern denominations which have been 
organised under the latest formulations of the creed, in 
a modern industrial community, it is felt that all levity 
and avowed zest in the enjoyment of the good things of 
this world is alien to the true clerical decorum. What- 
ever suggests that these servants of an invisible master 
are living a life, not of devotion to their master's good 
fame, but of application to their own ends, jars harshly 
on our sensibilities as something fundamentally and 
eternally wrong. They are a servant class, although, 
being servants of a very exalted master, they rank high 
in the social scale by virtue of this borrowed light. 
Their consumption is vicarious consumption ; and since, 
in the advanced cults, their master has no need of mate- 
rial gain, their occupation is vicarious leisure in the full 
sense. "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatso- 
ever ye do, do all to the glory of God." 

Devout Observances 313 

It may be added that so far as the laity is assimilated 
to the priesthood in the respect that they are conceived 
to be servants of the divinity, so far this imputed vica- 
rious character attaches also to the layman's life. The 
range of application of this corollary is somewhat wide. 
It applies especially to such movements for the reform 
or rehabilitation of the religious life as are of an austere, 
pietistic, ascetic cast, where the human subject is 
conceived to hold his life by a direct servile tenure from 
his spiritual sovereign. That is to say, where the insti- 
tution of the priesthood lapses, or where there is an 
exceptionally lively sense of the immediate and master- 
ful presence of the divinity in the affairs of life, there 
the layman is conceived to stand in an immediate ser- 
vile relation to the divinity, and his life is construed to 
be a performance of vicarious leisure directed to the 
enhancement of his master's repute. In such cases of 
reversion there is a return to the unmediated relation of 
subservience, as the dominant fact of the devout attitude. 
The emphasis is thereby thrown on an austere and dis- 
comforting vicarious leisure, to the neglect of conspicu- 
ous consumption as a means of grace. 

A doubt will present itself as to the full legitimacy 
of this characterisation of the sacerdotal scheme of life, 
on the ground that a considerable proportion of the 
modern priesthood depart from the scheme in many 
details. The scheme does not hold good for the clergy 
of those denominations which have in some measure 
diverged from the old established schedule of beliefs or 
observances. These take thought, at least ostensibly 
or permissively, for the temporal welfare of the laity, as 

314 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

well as for their own. Their manner of life, not only 
in the privacy of their own household, but often even 
before the public, does not differ in an extreme degree 
from that of secular-minded persons, either in its osten- 
sible austerity or in the archaism of its apparatus. 
This is truest for those denominations that have wan- 
dered the farthest. To this objection it is to be said 
that we have here to do not with a discrepancy in the 
theory of sacerdotal life, but with an imperfect con- 
formity to the scheme on the part of this body of clergy. 
They are but a partial and imperfect representative of 
the priesthood, and must not be taken as exhibiting the 
sacerdotal scheme of life in an authentic and competent 
manner. The clergy of the sects and denominations 
might be characterised as a half-caste priesthood, or a 
priesthood in process of becoming or of reconstitution. 
Such a priesthood may be expected to show the char- 
acteristics of the sacerdotal office only as blended and 
obscured with alien motives and traditions, due to the 
disturbing presence of other factors than those of ani- 
mism and status in the purposes of the organisations to 
which this non-conforming fraction of the priesthood 

Appeal may be taken direct to the taste of any per- 
son with a discriminating and cultivated sense of the 
sacerdotal proprieties, or to the prevalent sense of what 
constitutes clerical decorum in any community at all ac- 
customed to think or to pass criticism on what a clergy- 
man may or may not do without blame. Even in the 
most extremely secularised denominations, there is some 
sense of a distinction that should be observed between 

Devout Observances 315 

the sacerdotal and the lay scheme of life. There is no 
person of sensibility but feels that where the members 
of this denominational or sectarian clergy depart from 
traditional usage, in the direction of a less austere or 
less archaic demeanour and apparel, they are departing 
from the ideal of priestly decorum. There is probably 
no community and no sect within the range of the 
Western culture in which the bounds of permissible 
indulgence are not drawn appreciably closer for the 
incumbent of the priestly office than for the common 
layman. If the priest's own sense of sacerdotal pro- 
priety does not effectually impose a limit, the prevalent 
sense of the proprieties on the part of the community 
will commonly assert itself so obtrusively as to lead to 
his conformity or his retirement from office. 

Few if any members of any body of clergy, it may be 
added, would avowedly seek an increase of salary for 
gain's sake ; and if such avowal were openly made by a 
clergyman, it would be found obnoxious to the sense of 
propriety among his congregation. It may also be 
noted in this connection that no one but the scoffers 
and the very obtuse are not instinctively grieved in- 
wardly at a jest from the pulpit; and that there are 
none whose respect for their pastor does not surfer 
through any mark of levity on his part in any con- 
juncture of life, except it be levity of a palpably histri- 
onic kind a constrained unbending of dignity. The 
diction proper to the sanctuary and to the priestly office 
should also carry little if any suggestion of effective 
everyday life, and should not draw upon the vocabulary 
of modern trade or industry. Likewise, one's sense of 

316 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

the proprieties is readily offended by too detailed and 
intimate a handling of industrial and other purely human 
questions at the hands of the clergy. There is a cer- 
tain level of generality below which a cultivated sense 
of the proprieties in homiletical discourse will not 
permit a well-bred clergyman to decline in his discus- 
sion of temporal interests. These matters that are of 
human and secular consequence simply, should properly 
be handled with such a degree of generality and aloof- 
ness as may imply that the speaker represents a master 
whose interest in secular affairs goes only so far as to 
permissively countenance them. 

It is further to be noticed that the non-conforming 
sects and variants whose priesthood is here under dis- 
cussion, vary among themselves in the degree of their 
conformity to the ideal scheme of sacerdotal life. In a 
general way it will be found that the divergence in this 
respect is widest in the case of the relatively young 
denominations, and especially in the case of such of the 
newer denominations as have chiefly a lower middle- 
class constituency. They commonly show a large 
admixture of humanitarian, philanthropic, or other 
motives which can not be classed as expressions of 
the devotional attitude ; such as the desire of learning 
or of conviviality, which enter largely into the effective 
interest shown by members of these organisations. 
The non-conforming or sectarian movements have com- 
monly proceeded from a mixture of motives, some of 
which are at variance with that sense of status on which 
the priestly office rests. Sometimes, indeed, the motive 
has been in good part a revulsion against a system of 

Devout Observances 317 

status. Where this is the case the institution of the 
priesthood has broken down in the transition, at least 
partially. The spokesman of such an organisation is 
at the outset a servant and representative of the organi- 
sation, rather than a member of a special priestly class 
and the spokesman of a divine master. And it is only 
by a process of gradual specialisation that, in succeed- 
ing generations, this spokesman regains the position of 
priest, with a full investiture of sacerdotal authority, 
and with its accompanying austere, archaic and vicari- 
ous manner of life. The like is true of the breakdown 
and redintegration of devout ritual after such a revul- 
sion. The priestly office, the scheme of sacerdotal life, 
and the schedule of devout observances are rehabili- 
tated only gradually, insensibly, and with more or less 
variation in details, as the persistent human sense of 
devout propriety reasserts its primacy in questions 
touching the interest in the preternatural, and, it 
may be added, as the organisation increases in wealth, 
and so acquires more of the point of view and the 
habits of thought of a leisure class. 

Beyond the priestly class, and ranged in an ascending 
hierarchy, ordinarily comes a superhuman vicarious 
leisure class of saints, angels, etc., or their equiva- 
lents in the ethnic cults. These rise in grade, one 
above another, according to an elaborate system of 
status. The principle of status runs through the en- 
tire hierarchical system, both visible and invisible. 
The good fame of these several orders of the super- 
natural hierarchy also commonly requires a certain 
tribute of vicarious consumption and vicarious leisure. 

3i8 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

In many cases they accordingly have devoted to their 
service sub-orders of attendants or dependents who per- 
form a vicarious leisure for them, after much the same 
fashion as was found in an earlier chapter to be true of 
the dependent leisure class under the patriarchal system. 

It may not appear without reflection how these devout 
observances and the peculiarity of temperament which 
they imply, or the consumption of goods and services 
which is comprised in the cult, stand related to the 
leisure class of a modern community, or to the economic 
motives of which that class is the exponent in the 
modern scheme of life. To this end a summary review 
of certain facts bearing on this relation will be useful. 

It appears from an earlier passage in this discussion 
that for the purpose of the collective life of to-day, 
especially so far as concerns the industrial efficiency of 
the modern community, the characteristic traits of the 
devout temperament are a hindrance rather than a help. 
It should accordingly be found that the modern indus- 
trial life tends selectively to eliminate these traits of hu- 
man nature from the spiritual constitution of the classes 
that are immediately engaged in the industrial process. 
It should hold true, approximately, that devoutness is 
declining or tending to obsolescence among the mem- 
bers of what may be called the effective industrial com- 
munity. At the same time it should appear that this 
aptitude or habit survives in appreciably greater vigour 
among those classes which do not immediately or pri- 
marily enter into the community's life process as an 
industrial factor. 

Devout Observances 319 

It has already been pointed out that these latter 
classes, which live by, rather than in, the industrial 
process, are roughly comprised under two categories : 
(i) the leisure class proper, which is shielded from the 
stress of the economic situation; and (2) the indigent 
classes, including the lower-class delinquents, which are 
unduly exposed to the stress. In the case of the former 
class an archaic habit of mind persists because no effect- 
ual economic pressure constrains this class to an adap- 
tation of its habits of thought to the changing situation ; 
while in the latter the reason for a failure to adjust their 
habits of thought to the altered requirements of indus- 
trial efficiency is innutrition, absence of such a surplus 
of energy as is needed in order to make the adjustment 
with facility, together with a lack of opportunity to 
acquire and become habituated to the modern point of 
view. The trend of the selective process runs in much 
the same direction in both cases. 

From the point of view which the modern industrial 
life inculcates, phenomena are habitually subsumed 
under the quantitative relation of mechanical sequence. 
The indigent classes not only fall short of the modicum 
of leisure necessary in order to appropriate and assimi- 
late the more recent generalisations of science which 
this point of view involves, but they also ordinarily 
stand in such a relation of personal dependence or sub- 
servience to their pecuniary superiors as materially to 
retard their emancipation from habits of thought proper 
to the regime of status. The result is that these classes 
in some measure retain that general habit of mind 
the chief expression of which is a strong sense of 

320 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

personal status, and of which devoutness is one 

In the older communities of the European culture, the 
hereditary leisure class, together with the mass of the 
indigent population, are given to devout observances in 
an appreciably higher degree than the average of the 
industrious middle class, wherever a considerable class 
of the latter character exists. But in some of these 
countries, the two categories of conservative humanity 
named above comprise virtually the whole population. 
Where these two classes greatly preponderate, their 
bent shapes popular sentiment to such an extent as to 
bear down any possible divergent tendency in the in- 
considerable middle class, and imposes a devout attitude 
upon the whole community. 

This must, of course, not be construed to say that 
such communities or such classes as are exceptionally 
prone to devout observances tend to conform in any 
exceptional degree to the specifications of any code of 
morals that we may be accustomed to associate with 
this or that confession of faith. A large measure of the 
devout habit of mind need not carry with it a strict 
observance of the injunctions of the Decalogue or of the 
common law. Indeed, it is becoming somewhat of a 
commonplace with observers of criminal life in European 
communities that the criminal and dissolute classes are, 
if anything, rather more devout, and more naively so, 
than the average of the population. It is among those 
who constitute the pecuniary middle class and the body 
of law-abiding citizens that a relative exemption from 
the devotional attitude is to be looked for. Those who 

Devout Observances 321 

best appreciate the merits of the higher creeds and 
observances would object to all this and say that the 
devoutness of the low-class delinquents is a spurious, or 
at the best a superstitious devoutness ; and the point 
is no doubt well taken and goes directly and cogently 
to the purpose intended. But for the purpose of the 
present inquiry these extra-economic, extra-psychologi- 
cal distinctions must perforce be neglected, however 
valid and however decisive they may be for the purpose 
for which they are made. 

What has actually taken place with regard to class 
emancipation from the habit of devout observance is 
shown by the latter-day complaint of the clergy, that 
the churches are losing the sympathy of the artisan 
classes, and are losing their hold upon them. At the 
same time it is currently believed that the middle class, 
commonly so called, is also falling away in the cordiality 
of its support of the church, especially so far as regards 
the adult male portion of that class. These are cur- 
rently recognised phenomena, and it might seem that a 
simple reference to these facts should sufficiently sub- 
stantiate the general position outlined. Such an appeal 
to the general phenomena of popular church attendance 
and church membership may be sufficiently convincing 
for the proposition here advanced. But it will still be 
to the purpose to trace in some detail the course of 
events and the particular forces which have wrought 
this change in the spiritual attitude of the more ad- 
vanced industrial communities of to-day. It will serve 
to illustrate the manner in which economic causes work 
towards a secularisation of men's habits of thought. In 

322 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

this respect the American community should afford an 
exceptionally convincing illustration, since this com- 
munity has been the least trammelled by external 
circumstances of any equally important industrial 

After making due allowance for exceptions and spo- 
radic departures from the normal, the situation here at 
the present time may be summarised quite briefly. As 
a general rule the classes that are low in economic effi- 
ciency, or in intelligence, or both, are peculiarly devout, 
as, for instance, the negro population of the South, 
much of the lower-class foreign population, much of the 
rural population, especially in those sections which are 
backward in education, in the stage of development of 
their industry, or in respect of their industrial contact 
with the rest of the community. So also such frag- 
ments as we possess of a specialised or hereditary indi- 
gent class, or of a segregated criminal or dissolute class ; 
although among these latter the devout habit of mind is 
apt to take the form of a na'fve animistic belief in luck 
and in the efficacy of shamanistic practices perhaps 
more frequently than it takes the form of a formal adher- 
ence to any accredited creed. The artisan class, on 
the other hand, is notoriously falling away from the 
accredited anthropomorphic creeds and from all devout 
observances. This class is in an especial degree ex- 
posed to the characteristic intellectual and spiritual 
stress of modern organised industry, which requires a 
constant recognition of the undisguised phenomena of 
impersonal, matter-of-fact sequence and an unreserved 
conformity to the law of cause and effect. This class is 

Devout Observances 323 

at the same time not underfed nor overworked to such 
an extent as to leave no margin of energy for the work 
of adaptation. 

The case of the lower or doubtful leisure class in 
America the middle class commonly so called is 
somewhat peculiar. It differs in respect of its devo- 
tional life from its European counterpart, but it differs 
in degree and method rather than in substance. The 
churches still have the pecuniary support of this class ; 
although the creeds to which the class adheres with the 
greatest facility are relatively poor in anthropomorphic 
content. At the same time the effective middle-class 
congregation tends, in many cases, more or less re- 
motely perhaps, to become a congregation of women 
and minors. There is an appreciable lack of devotional 
fervour among the adult males of the middle class, 
although to a considerable extent there survives among 
them a certain complacent, reputable assent to the out- 
lines of the accredited creed under which they were 
born. Their everyday life is carried on in a more or 
less close contact with the industrial process. 

This peculiar sexual differentiation, which tends to 
delegate devout observances to the women and their 
children, is due, at least in part, to the fact that the 
middle-class women are in great measure a (vicarious) 
leisure class. The same is true in a less degree of the 
women of the lower, artisan classes. They live under a 
regime of status handed down from an earlier stage of 
industrial development, and thereby they preserve a 
frame of mind and habits of thought which incline them 
to an archaic view of things generally. At the same 

324 The Theory of the Leistire Class 

time they stand in. no such direct organic relation to the 
industrial process at large as would tend strongly to 
break down those habits of thought which, for the 
modern industrial purpose, are obsolete. That is to say, 
the peculiar devoutness of women is a particular expres- 
sion of that conservatism which the women of civilised 
communities owe, in great measure, to their economic 
position. For the modern man the patriarchal relation 
of status is by no means the dominant feature of life ; 
but for the women on the other hand, and for the upper 
middle-class women especially, confined as they are by 
prescription and by economic circumstances to their 
" domestic sphere," this relation is the most real and 
most formative factor of life. Hence a habit of mind 
favourable to devout observances and to the interpreta- 
tion of the facts of life generally in terms of personal 
status. The logic, and the logical processes, of her 
everyday domestic life are carried over into the realm of 
the supernatural, and the woman finds herself at home 
and content in a range of ideas which to the man are in 
great measure alien and imbecile. 

Still, the men of this class are also not devoid of 
piety, although it is commonly not piety of an aggres- 
sive or exuberant kind. The men of the upper middle 
class commonly take a more complacent attitude towards 
devout observances than the men of the artisan class. 
This may perhaps be explained in part by saying that 
what is true of the women of the class is true to a less 
extent also of the men. They are to an appreciable ex- 
tent a sheltered class ; and the patriarchal relation of 
status, which still persists in their conjugal life and in 

Devout Observances 325 

their habitual use of servants, may also act to conserve 
an archaic habit of mind and may exercise a retarding 
influence upon the process of secularisation which their 
habits of thought are undergoing. The relations of the 
American middle-class man to the economic community, 
however, are usually pretty close and exacting ; although 
it may be remarked, by the way and in qualification, that 
their economic activity frequently also partakes in some 
degree of the patriarchal or quasi-predatory character. 
The occupations which are in good repute among this 
class, and which have most to do with shaping the class 
habits of thought, are the pecuniary occupations which 
have been spoken of in a similar connection in an earlier 
chapter. There is a good deal of the relation of arbi- 
trary command and submission, and not a little of 
shrewd practice, remotely akin to predatory fraud. All 
this belongs on the plane of life of the predatory bar- 
barian, to whom a devotional attitude is habitual. And 
in addition to this, the devout observances also com- 
mend themselves to this class on the ground of reputa- 
bility. But this latter incentive to piety deserves 
treatment by itself and will be spoken of presently. 

There is no hereditary leisure class of any conse- 
quence in the American community, except at the 
South. This Southern leisure class is somewhat given 
to devout observances ; more so than any class of cor- 
responding pecuniary standing in other parts of the 
country. It is also well known that the creeds of the 
South are of a more old-fashioned cast than their coun- 
terparts at the North. Corresponding to this more 
archaic devotional life of the South is the lower in- 

326 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

dustrial development of that section. The industrial 
organisation of the South is at present, and especially 
it has been until quite recently, of a more primitive 
character than that of the American community taken 
as a whole. It approaches nearer to handicraft, in the 
paucity and rudeness of its mechanical appliances, and 
there is more of the element of mastery and subservi- 
ence. It may also be noted that, owing to the peculiar 
economic circumstances of this section, the greater 
devoutness of the Southern population, both white and 
black, is correlated with a scheme of life which in many 
ways recalls the barbarian stages of industrial develop- 
ment. Among this population offences of an archaic 
character also are and have been relatively more preva- 
lent and are less deprecated than they are elsewhere ; 
as, for example, duels, brawls, feuds, drunkenness, 
horse-racing, cock-fighting, gambling, male sexual in- 
continence (evidenced by the considerable number of 
mulattoes). There is also a livelier sense of honour 
an expression of sportsmanship and a derivative of pred- 
atory life. 

As regards the wealthier class of the North, the 
American leisure class in the best sense of the term, 
it is, to begin with, scarcely possible to speak of an 
hereditary devotional attitude. This class is of too 
recent growth to be possessed of a well-formed trans- 
mitted habit in this respect, or even of a special home- 
grown tradition. Still, it may be noted in passing that 
there is a perceptible tendency among this class to give 
in at least a nominal, and apparently something of a 
real, adherence to some one of the accredited creeds. 

Devout Observances 327 

Also, weddings, funerals, and the like honorific events 
among this class are pretty uniformly solemnised with 
some especial degree of religious circumstance. It is 
impossible to say how far this adherence to a creed is 
a bona fide reversion to a devout habit of mind, and 
how far it is to be classed as a case of protective mimi- 
cry assumed for the purpose of an outward assimilation 
to canons of reputability borrowed from foreign ideals. 
Something of a substantial devotional propensity seems 
to be present, to judge especially by the somewhat 
peculiar degree of ritualistic observance which is in 
process of development in the upper-class cults. There 
is a tendency perceptible among the upper-class wor- 
shippers to affiliate themselves with those cults which 
lay relatively great stress on ceremonial and on the 
spectacular accessories of worship : and in the churches 
in which an upper-class membership predominates, 
there is at the same time a tendency to accentuate 
the ritualistic, at the cost of the intellectual features 
in the service and in the apparatus of the devout obser- 
vances. This holds true even where the church in 
question belongs to a denomination with a relatively 
slight general development of ritual and paraphernalia. 
This peculiar development of the ritualistic element is 
no doubt due in part to a predilection for conspicuously 
wasteful spectacles, but it probably also in part indi- 
cates something of the devotional attitude of the wor- 
shippers. So far as the latter is true, it indicates a 
relatively archaic form of the devotional habit. The 
predominance of spectacular effects in devout obser- 
vances is noticeable in all devout communities at a 

328 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

relatively primitive stage of culture and with a slight 
intellectual development. It is especially characteristic 
of the barbarian culture. Here there is pretty uni- 
formly present in the devout observances a direct ap- 
peal to the emotions through all the avenues of sense. 
And a tendency to return to this naive, sensational 
method of appeal is unmistakable in the upper-class 
churches of to-day. It is perceptible in a less degree in 
the cults which claim the allegiance of the lower leis- 
ure class and of the middle classes. There is a reversion 
to the use of coloured lights and brilliant spectacles, a 
freer use of symbols, orchestral music and incense, and 
one may even detect, in " processionals " and " reces- 
sionals " and in richly varied genuflexional evolutions, 
an incipient reversion to so antique an accessory of wor- 
ship as the sacred dance. 

This reversion to spectacular observances is not con- 
fined to the upper-class cults, although it finds its best 
exemplification and its highest accentuation in the 
higher pecuniary and social altitudes. The cults of 
the lower-class devout portion of the community, such 
as the Southern negroes and the backward foreign 
elements of the population, of course also show a strong 
inclination to ritual, symbolism, and spectacular effects ; 
as might be expected from the antecedents and the 
cultural level of those classes. With these classes the 
prevalence of ritual and anthropomorphism are not so 
much a matter of reversion as of continued develop- 
ment out of the past. But the use of ritual and related 
features of devotion are also spreading in other direc- 
tions. In the early days of the American community, 

Devout Observances 329 

the prevailing denominations started out with a ritual 
and paraphernalia of an austere simplicity ; but it is a 
matter familiar to every one that in the course of time 
these denominations have, in a varying degree, adopted 
much of the spectacular elements which they once 
renounced. In a general way, this development has 
gone hand in hand with the growth of the wealth and 
the ease of life of the worshippers and has reached its 
fullest expression among those classes which grade 
highest in wealth and repute. 

The causes to which this pecuniary stratification of 
devoutness is due have already been indicated in a 
general way in speaking of class differences in habits 
of thought. Class differences as regards devoutness 
are but a special expression of a generic fact. The 
lax allegiance of the lower middle class, or what may 
broadly be called the failure of filial piety among this 
class, is chiefly perceptible among the town populations 
engaged in the mechanical industries. In a general 
way, one does not, at the present time, look for a 
blameless filial piety among those classes whose em- 
ployment approaches that of the engineer and the 
mechanician. These mechanical employments are in 
a degree a modern fact. The handicraftsmen of earlier 
times, who served an industrial end of a character 
similar to that now served by the mechanician, were 
not similarly refractory under the discipline of devout- 
ness. The habitual activity of the men engaged in 
these branches of industry has greatly changed, as 
regards its intellectual discipline, since the modern 
industrial processes have come into vogue; and the 

330 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

discipline to which the mechanician is exposed in his 
daily employment affects the methods and standards 
of his thinking also on topics which lie outside his 
everyday work. Familiarity with the highly organised 
and highly impersonal industrial processes of the 
present acts to derange the animistic habits of thought. 
The workman's office is becoming more and more 
exclusively that of discretion and supervision in a 
process of mechanical, dispassionate sequences. So 
long as the individual is the chief and typical prime 
mover in the process ; so long as the obtrusive feature 
of the industrial process is the dexterity and force of 
the individual handicraftsman ; so long the habit of 
interpreting phenomena in terms of personal motive 
and propensity suffers no such considerable and con- 
sistent derangement through facts as to lead to its 
elimination. But under the later developed industrial 
processes, when the prime movers and the contrivances 
through which they work are of an impersonal, non- 
individual character, the grounds of generalisation 
habitually present in the workman's mind and the 
point of view from which he habitually apprehends 
phenomena is an enforced cognisance of matter-of-fact 
sequence. The result, so far as concerns the work- 
man's life of faith, is a proclivity to undevout scepticism. 

It appears, then, that the devout habit of mind 
attains its best development under a relatively archaic 
culture ; the term " devout " being of course here 
used in its anthropological sense simply, and not as 
implying anything with respect to the spiritual attitude 
so characterised, beyond the fact of a proneness to 

Devout Observances 331 

devout observances. It appears also that this devout 
attitude marks a type of human nature which is more 
in consonance with the predatory mode of life than 
with the later-developed, more consistently and organi- 
cally industrial life process of the community. It is in 
large measure an expression of the archaic habitual 
sense of personal status, the relation of mastery and 
subservience, and it therefore fits into the industrial 
scheme of the predatory and the quasi-peaceable cul- 
ture, but does not fit into the industrial scheme of the 
present. It also appears that this habit persists with 
greatest tenacity among those classes in the modern 
communities whose everyday life is most remote from 
the mechanical processes of industry and which are the 
most conservative also in other respects ; while for 
those classes that are habitually in immediate contact 
with modern industrial processes, and whose habits of 
thought are therefore exposed to the constraining force 
of technological necessities, that animistic interpretation 
of phenomena and that respect of persons on which 
devout observance proceeds are in process of obsoles- 
cence. And also as bearing especially on the present 
discussion it appears that the devout habit to some 
extent progressively gains in scope and elaboration 
among those classes in the modern communities to 
whom wealth and leisure accrue in the most pronounced 
degree. In this as in other relations, the institution 
of a leisure class acts to conserve, and even to rehabili- 
tate, that archaic type of human nature and those 
elements of the archaic culture which the industrial 
evolution of society in its later stages acts to eliminate. 


IN an increasing proportion as time goes on, the 
anthropomorphic cult, with its code of devout observ- 
ances, suffers a progressive disintegration through the 
stress of economic exigencies and the decay of the sys- 
tem of status. As this disintegration proceeds, there 
come to be associated and blended with the devout atti- 
tude certain other motives and impulses that are not 
always of an anthropomorphic origin, nor traceable to 
the habit of personal subservience. Not all of these 
subsidiary impulses that blend with the habit of devout- 
ness in the later devotional life are altogether congruous 
with the devout attitude or with the anthropomorphic 
apprehension of the sequence of phenomena. Their 
origin being not the same, their action upon the scheme 
of devout life is also not in the same direction. In 
many ways they traverse the underlying norm of sub- 
servience or vicarious life to which the code of devout 
observances and the ecclesiastical and sacerdotal insti- 
tutions are to be traced as their substantial basis. 
Through the presence of these alien motives the social 
and industrial regime of status gradually disintegrates, 
and the canon of personal subservience loses the sup- 
port derived from an unbroken tradition. Extraneous 


Survivals of the Non-Invidious Interest 333 

habits and proclivities encroach upon the field of action 
occupied by this canon, and it presently comes about 
that the ecclesiastical and sacerdotal structures are 
partially converted to other uses, in some measure alien 
to the purposes of the scheme of devout life as it stood 
in the days of the most vigorous and characteristic 
development of the priesthood. 

Among these alien motives which affect the devout 
scheme in its later growth, may be mentioned the 
motives of charity and of social good-fellowship, or con- 
viviality ; or, in more general terms, the various expres- 
sions of the sense of human solidarity and sympathy. 
It may be added that these extraneous uses of the eccle- 
siastical structure contribute materially to its survival in 
name and form even among people who may be ready 
to give up the substance of it. A still more character- 
istic and more pervasive alien element in the motives 
which have gone to formally uphold the scheme of 
devout life is that non-reverent sense of aesthetic con- 
gruity with the environment, which is left as a residue 
of the latter-day act of worship after elimination of its 
anthropomorphic content. This has done good service 
for the maintenance of the sacerdotal institution through 
blending with the motive of subservience. This sense 
or impulse of aesthetic congruity is not primarily of an 
economic character, but it has a considerable indirect 
effect in shaping the habit of mind of the individual 
for economic purposes in the later stages of industrial 
development ; its most perceptible effect in this regard 
goes in the direction of mitigating the somewhat pro- 
nounced self-regarding bias that has been transmitted 

334 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

by tradition from the earlier, more competent phases 
of the regime of status. The economic bearing of this 
impulse is therefore seen to traverse that of the devout 
attitude ; the former goes to qualify, if not to elimi- 
nate, the self-regarding bias, through sublation of the 
antithesis or antagonism of self and not-self ; while the 
latter, being an expression of the sense of personal sub- 
servience and mastery, goes to accentuate this antithesis 
and to insist upon the divergence between the self- 
regarding interest and the interests of the generically 
human life process. 

This non-invidious residue of the religious life, the 
sense of communion with the environment, or with 
the generic life process, as well as the impulse of 
charity or of sociability, act in a pervasive way to shape 
men's habits of thought for the economic purpose. But 
the action of all this class of proclivities is somewhat 
vague, and their effects are difficult to trace in detail. 
So much seems clear, however, as that the action of 
this entire class of motives or aptitudes tends in a 
direction contrary to the underlying principles of the 
institution of the leisure class as already formulated. 
The basis of that institution, as well as of the anthropo- 
morphic cults associated with it in the cultural develop- 
ment, is the habit of invidious comparison ; and this 
habit is incongruous with the exercise of the aptitudes 
now in question. The substantial canons of the leisure- 
class scheme of life are a conspicuous waste of time and 
substance and a withdrawal from the industrial process ; 
while the particular aptitudes here in question assert 
themselves, on the economic side, in a deprecation of 

Survivals of the Non-Invidious Interest 335 

waste and of a futile manner of life, and in an impulse 
to participation in or identification with the life process, 
whether it be on the economic side or in any other of 
its phases or aspects. 

It is plain that these aptitudes and the habits of life 
to which they give rise where circumstances favour 
their expression, or where they assert themselves in a 
dominant way, run counter to the leisure-class scheme 
of life ; but it is not clear that life under the leisure- 
class scheme, as seen in the later stages of its develop- 
ment, tends consistently to the repression of these 
aptitudes or to exemption from the habits of thought 
in which they express themselves. The positive disci- 
pline of the leisure-class scheme of life goes pretty 
much all the other way. In its positive discipline, by 
prescription and by selective elimination, the leisure- 
class scheme favours the all-pervading and all-dominating 
primacy of the canons of waste and invidious comparison 
at every conjuncture of life. But in its negative effects 
the tendency of the leisure-class discipline is not so 
unequivocally true to the fundamental canons of the 
scheme. In its regulation of human activity for the 
purpose of pecuniary decency the leisure-class canon 
insists on withdrawal from the industrial process. That 
is to say, it inhibits activity in the directions in which 
the impecunious members of the community habitually 
put forth their efforts. Especially in the case of women, 
and more particularly as regards the upper-class and 
upper-middle-class women of advanced industrial com- 
munities, this inhibition goes so far as to insist on 
withdrawal even from the emulative process of accumu- 

336 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

lation by the quasi-predatory methods of the pecuniary 

The pecuniary or the leisure-class culture, which set 
out as an emulative variant of the impulse of workman- 
ship, is in its latest development beginning to neutralise 
its own ground, by eliminating the habit of invidious 
comparison in respect of efficiency, or even of pecuniary 
standing. On the other hand, the fact that members 
of the leisure class, both men and women, are to some 
extent exempt from the necessity of finding a livelihood 
in a competitive struggle with their fellows, makes it 
possible for members of this class not only to survive, 
but even, within bounds, to follow their bent in case 
they are not gifted with the aptitudes which make for 
success in the competitive struggle. That is to say, in 
the latest and fullest development of the institution, the 
livelihood of members of this class does not depend on 
the possession and the unremitting exercise of those 
aptitudes which characterise the successful predatory 
man. The chances of survival for individuals not gifted 
with those aptitudes are therefore greater in the higher 
grades of the leisure class than in the general average 
of a population living under the competitive system. 

In an earlier chapter, in discussing the conditions 
of survival of archaic traits, it has appeared that the 
peculiar position of the leisure class affords exception- 
ally favourable chances for the survival of traits which 
characterise the types of human nature proper to an 
earlier and obsolete cultural stage. The class is shel- 
tered from the stress of economic exigencies, and is in 
this sense withdrawn from the rude impact of forces 

Survivals of the Non-Invidious Interest 337 

which make for adaptation to the economic situation. 
The survival in the leisure class, and under the leisure- 
class scheme of life, of traits and types that are reminis- 
cent of the predatory culture has already been discussed. 
These aptitudes and habits have an exceptionally favour- 
able chance of survival under the leisure-class regime. 
Not only does the sheltered pecuniary position of the 
leisure class afford a situation favourable to the sur- 
vival of such individuals as are not gifted with the 
complement of aptitudes required for serviceability in 
the modern industrial process ; but the leisure-class 
canons of reputability at the same time enjoin the con- 
spicuous exercise of certain predatory aptitudes. The 
employments in which the predatory aptitudes find ex- 
ercise serve as an evidence of wealth, birth, and with- 
drawal from the industrial process. The survival of the 
predatory traits under the leisure-class culture is fur- 
thered both negatively, through the industrial exemp- 
tion of the class, and positively, through the sanction 
of the leisure-class canons of decency. 

With respect to the survival of traits characteristic of 
the ante-predatory savage culture the case is in some 
degree different. The sheltered position of the leisure 
class favours the survival also of these traits ; but the 
exercise of the aptitudes for peace and good-will does 
not have the affirmative sanction of the code of pro- 
prieties. Individuals gifted with a temperament that 
is reminiscent of the ante-predatory culture are placed 
at something of an advantage within the leisure class, as 
compared with similarly gifted individuals outside the 
class, in that they are not under a pecuniary necessity 

338 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

to thwart these aptitudes that make for a non-com- 
petitive life ; but such individuals are still exposed to 
something of a moral constraint which urges them to 
disregard these inclinations, in that the code of pro- 
prieties enjoins upon them habits of life based on the 
predatory aptitudes. So long as the system of status 
remains intact, and so long as the leisure class has 
other lines of non-industrial activity to take to than 
obvious killing of time in aimless and wasteful fatiga- 
tion, so long no considerable departure from the lei- 
sure-class scheme of reputable life is to be looked 
for. The occurrence of a non-predatory temperament 
within the class at that stage is to be looked upon as 
a case of sporadic reversion. But the reputable non- 
industrial outlets for the human propensity to action 
presently fail, through the advance of economic devel- 
opment, the disappearance of large game, the decline 
of war, the obsolescence of proprietary government, and 
the decay of the priestly office. When this happens, 
the situation begins to change. Human life must seek 
expression in one direction if it may not in another ; and 
if the predatory outlet fails, relief is sought elsewhere. 
As indicated above, the exemption from pecuniary 
stress has been carried farther in the case of the 
leisure-class women of the advanced industrial com- 
munities than in that of any other considerable group 
of persons. The women may therefore be expected 
to show a more pronounced reversion to a non-invidious 
temperament than the men. But there is also among 
men of the leisure class a perceptible increase in the 
range and scope of activities that proceed from apti- 

Survivals of the Non-Invidious Interest 339 

tudes which are not to be classed as self-regarding, 
and the end of which is not an invidious distinction. 
So, for instance, the greater number of men who have 
to do with industry in the way of pecuniarily managing 
an enterprise take some interest and some pride in 
seeing that the work is well done and is industrially 
effective, and this even apart from the profit which 
may result from any improvement of this kind. The 
efforts of commercial clubs and manufacturers' organi- 
sations in this direction of non-invidious advancement 
of industrial efficiency are also well known. 

The tendency to some other than an invidious pur- 
pose in life has worked out in a multitude of organisa- 
tions, the purpose of which is some work of charity 
or of social amelioration. These organisations are often 
of a quasi-religious or pseudo-religious character, and are 
participated in by both men and women. Examples 
will present themselves in abundance on reflection, but 
for the purpose of indicating the range of the propensi- 
ties in question and of characterising them, some of 
the more obvious concrete cases may be cited. Such, 
for instance, are the agitation for temperance and simi- 
lar social reforms, for prison reform, for the spread 
of education, for the suppression of vice, and for the 
avoidance of war by arbitration, disarmament, or other 
means; such are, in some measure, university settle- 
ments, neighbourhood guilds, the various organisations 
typified by the Young Men's Christian Association 
and the Young People's Society for Christian Endeav- 
our, sewing-circles, social clubs, art clubs, and even com- 
mercial clubs ; such are also, in some slight measure, 

34O The Theory of the Leisure Class 

the pecuniary foundations of semi-public establishments 
for charity, education, or amusement, whether they are 
endowed by wealthy individuals or by contributions 
collected from persons of smaller means in so far as 
these establishments are not of a religious character. 
It is of course not intended to say that these efforts 
proceed entirely from other motives than those of a 
self-regarding kind. What can be claimed is that other 
motives are present in the common run of cases, and 
that the perceptibly greater prevalence of effort of this 
kind under the circumstances of the modern industrial 
life than under the unbroken regime of the principle 
of status, indicates the presence in modern life of an 
effective scepticism with respect to the full legitimacy 
of an emulative scheme of life. It is a matter of suffi- 
cient notoriety to have become a commonplace jest 
that extraneous motives are commonly present among 
the incentives to this class of work motives of a self- 
regarding kind, and especially the motive of an in- 
vidious distinction. To such an extent is this true, 
that many ostensible works of disinterested public spirit 
are no doubt initiated and carried on with a view pri- 
marily to the enhanced repute, or even to the pecuniary 
gain, of their promoters. In the case of some consid- 
erable groups of organisations or establishments of this 
kind the invidious motive is apparently the dominant 
motive both with the initiators of the work and with 
their supporters. This last remark would hold true 
especially with respect to such works as lend distinction 
to their doer through large and conspicuous expendi- 
ture ; as, for example, the foundation of a university or 

Survivals of the Non-Invidious Interest 341 

of a public library or museum ; but it is also, and per- 
haps equally, true of the more commonplace work of 
participation in such organisations and movements as 
are distinctively upper-class organisations. These serve 
to authenticate the pecuniary reputability of their mem- 
bers, as well as gratefully to keep them in mind of 
their superior status by pointing the contrast between 
themselves and the lower-lying humanity in whom the 
work of amelioration is to be wrought ; as, for example, 
the university settlement, which now has some vogue. 
But after all allowances and deductions have been 
made, there is left some remainder of motives of a non- 
emulative kind. The fact itself that distinction or a 
decent good fame is sought by this method is evidence 
of a prevalent sense of the legitimacy, and of the pre- 
sumptive effectual presence, of a non-emulative, non- 
invidious interest, as a constituent factor in the habits 
of thought of modern communities. 

In all this latter-day range of leisure-class activities 
that proceed on the basis of a non-invidious and non- 
religious interest, it is to be noted that the women 
participate more actively and more persistently than 
the men except, of course, in the case of such works 
as require a large expenditure of means. The dependent 
pecuniary position of the women disables them for 
work requiring large expenditure. As regards the 
general range of ameliorative work, the members of the 
priesthood or clergy of the less naively devout sects, or 
the secularised denominations, are associated with the 
class of the women. This is as the theory would have 
it. In other economic relations, also, this clergy stands 

342 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

in a somewhat equivocal position between the class of 
women and that of the men engaged in economic pur- 
suits. By tradition and by the prevalent sense of the 
proprieties, both the clergy and the women of the well- 
to-do classes are placed in the position of a vicarious 
leisure class ; with both classes the characteristic rela- 
tion which goes to form the habits of thought of the 
class is a relation of subservience that is to say, an 
economic relation conceived in personal terms ; in both 
classes there is consequently perceptible a special 
proneness to construe phenomena in terms of personal 
relation rather than of causal sequence ; both classes 
are so inhibited by the canons of decency from the 
ceremonially unclean processes of the lucrative or pro- 
ductive occupations as to make participation in the 
industrial life process of to-day a moral impossibility 
for them. The result of this ceremonial exclusion from 
productive effort of the vulgar sort is to draft a rela- 
tively large share of the energies of the modern femi- 
nine and priestly classes into the service of other 
interests than the self-regarding one. The code leaves 
no alternative direction in which the impulse to pur- 
poseful action may find expression. The effect of 
a consistent inhibition on industrially useful activity 
in the case of the leisure-class women shows itself in 
a restless assertion of the impulse to workmanship in 
other directions than that of business activity. 

As has been noticed already, the everyday life of 
the well-to-do women and the clergy contains a larger 
element of status than that of the average of the men, 
especially than that of the men engaged in the modern 

Survivals of the Non-Invidious Interest 343 

industrial occupations proper. Hence the devout atti- 
tude survives in a better state of preservation among 
these classes than among the common run of men in 
the modern communities. Hence an appreciable share 
of the energy which seeks expression in a non-lucrative 
employment among these members of the vicarious 
leisure classes may be expected to eventuate in devout 
observances and works of piety. Hence, in part, the 
excess of the devout proclivity in women, spoken of in 
the last chapter. But it is more to the present point 
to note the effect of this proclivity in shaping the 
action and colouring the purposes of the non-lucrative 
movements and organisations here under discussion. 
Where this devout colouring is present it lowers the 
immediate efficiency of the organisations for any eco- 
nomic end to which their efforts may be directed. 
Many organisations, charitable and ameliorative, divide 
their attention between the devotional and the secular 
well-being of the people whose interests they aim to 
further. It can scarcely be doubted that if they were 
to give an equally serious attention and effort undi- 
videdly to the secular interests of these people, the 
immediate economic value of their work should be 
appreciably higher than it is. It might of course simi- 
larly be said, if this were the place to say it, that the 
immediate efficiency of these works of amelioration for 
the devout end might be greater if it were not ham- 
pered with the secular motives and aims which are 
usually present. 

Some deduction is to be made from the economic 
value of this class of non-invidious enterprise, on 

344 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

account of the intrusion of the devotional interest. 
But there are also deductions to be made on account 
of the presence of other alien motives which more or 
less broadly traverse the economic trend of this non- 
emulative expression of the instinct of workmanship. 
To such an extent is this seen to be true on a closer 
scrutiny, that, when all is told, it may even appear 
that this general class of enterprises is of an altogether 
dubious economic value as measured in terms of the 
fulness or facility of life of the individuals or classes 
to whose amelioration the enterprise is directed. For 
instance, many of the efforts now in reputable vogue 
for the amelioration of the indigent population of large 
cities are of the nature, in great part, of a mission of 
culture. It is by this means sought to accelerate the 
rate of speed at which given elements of the upper- 
class culture find acceptance in the everyday scheme 
of life of the lower classes. The solicitude of "settle- 
ments," for example, is in part directed to enhance the 
industrial efficiency of the poor and to teach them the 
more adequate utilisation of the means at hand ; but 
it is also no less consistently directed to the incul- 
cation, by precept and example, of certain punctilios 
of upper-class propriety in manners and customs. The 
economic substance of these proprieties will commonly 
be found on scrutiny to be a conspicuous waste of time 
and goods. Those good people who go out to humanise 
the poor are commonly, and advisedly, extremely scru- 
pulous and silently insistent in matters of decorum and 
the decencies of life. They are commonly persons of 
an exemplary life and gifted with a tenacious insistence 

Survivals of the Non-Invidious Interest 345 

on ceremonial cleanness in the various items of their 
daily consumption. The cultural or civilising efficacy 
of this inculcation of correct habits of thought with 
respect to the consumption of time and commodities 
is scarcely to be overrated ; nor is its economic value 
to the individual who acquires these higher and more 
reputable ideals inconsiderable. Under the circum- 
stances of the existing pecuniary culture, the reputa- 
bility, and consequently the success, of the individual 
is in great measure dependent on his proficiency in 
demeanour and methods of consumption that argue 
habitual waste of time and goods. But as regards the 
ulterior economic bearing of this training in worthier 
methods of life, it is to be said that the effect wrought 
is in large part a substitution of costlier or less efficient 
methods of accomplishing the same material results, 
in relations where the material result is the fact of 
substantial economic value. The propaganda of cul- 
ture is in great part an inculcation of new tastes, or 
rather of a new schedule of proprieties, which have 
been adapted to the upper-class scheme of life under 
the guidance of the leisure-class formulation of the 
principles of status and pecuniary decency. This new 
schedule of proprieties is intruded into the lower-class 
scheme of life from the code elaborated by an ele- 
ment of the population whose life lies outside the 
industrial process ; and this intrusive schedule can 
scarcely be expected to fit the exigencies of life for 
these lower classes more adequately than the schedule 
already in vogue among them, and especially not more 
adequately than the schedule which they are them- 

346 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

selves working out under the stress of modern Indus- 
trial life. 

All this of course does not question the fact that the 
proprieties of the substituted schedule are more deco- 
rous than those which they displace. The doubt which 
presents itself is simply a doubt as to the economic 
expediency of this work of regeneration that is to 
say, the economic expediency in that immediate and 
material bearing in which the effects of the change can 
be ascertained with some degree of confidence, and as 
viewed from the standpoint not of the individual but of 
the facility of life of the collectivity. For an apprecia- 
tion of the economic expediency of these enterprises of 
amelioration, therefore, their effective work is scarcely 
to be taken at its face value, even where the aim of the 
enterprise is primarily an economic one and where the 
interest on which it proceeds is in no sense self-regard- 
ing or invidious. The economic reform wrought is 
largely of the nature of a permutation in the methods of 
conspicuous waste. 

But something further is to be said with respect 
to the character of the disinterested motives and 
canons of procedure in all work of this class that 
is affected by the habits of thought characteristic of 
the pecuniary culture ; and this further considera- 
tion may lead to a further qualification of the con- 
clusions already reached. As has been seen in an 
earlier chapter, the canons of reputability or decency 
under the pecuniary culture insist on habitual futility of 
effort as the mark of a pecuniarily blameless life. 
There results not only a habit of disesteem of useful 

Survivals of the Non-Invidious Interest 347 

occupations, but there results also what is of more deci- 
sive consequence in guiding the action of any organised 
body of people that lays claim to social good repute. 
There is a tradition which requires that one should not 
be vulgarly familiar with any of the processes or details 
that have to do with the material necessities of life. 
One may meritoriously show a quantitative interest in 
the well-being of the vulgar, through subscriptions or 
through work on managing committees and the like. 
One may, perhaps even more meritoriously, show solici- 
tude in general and in detail for the cultural welfare of 
the vulgar, in the way of contrivances for elevating their 
tastes and affording them opportunities for spiritual 
amelioration. But one should not betray an intimate 
knowledge of the material circumstances of vulgar life, 
or of the habits of thought of the vulgar classes, such 
as would effectually direct the efforts of these organisa- 
tions to a materially useful end. This reluctance to 
avow an unduly intimate knowledge of the lower-class 
conditions of life in detail of course prevails in very 
different degrees in different individuals ; but there is 
commonly enough of it present collectively in any or- 
ganisation of the kind in question profoundly to influ- 
ence its course of action. By its cumulative action in 
shaping the usage and precedents of any such body, 
this shrinking from an imputation of unseemly famili- 
arity with vulgar life tends gradually to set aside the 
initial motives of the enterprise, in favour of certain 
guiding principles of good repute, ultimately reducible 
to terms of pecuniary merit. So that in an organisa- 
tion of long standing the initial motive of furthering 

348 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

the facility of life in these classes comes gradually to be 
an ostensible motive only, and the vulgarly effective 
work of the organisation tends to obsolescence. 

What is true of the efficiency of organisations for 
non-invidious work in this respect is true also as regards 
the work of individuals proceeding on the same motives; 
though it perhaps holds true with more qualification for 
individuals than for organised enterprises. The habit 
of gauging merit by the leisure-class canons of wasteful 
expenditure and unfamiliarity with vulgar life, whether 
on the side of production or of consumption, is necessa- 
rily strong in the individuals who aspire to do some 
work of public utility. And if the individual should 
forget his station and turn his efforts to vulgar effec- 
tiveness, the common sense of the community the 
sense of pecuniary decency would presently reject 
his work and set him right. An example of this is 
seen in the administration of bequests made by public- 
spirited men for the single purpose (at least ostensibly) 
of furthering the facility of human life in some particu- 
lar respect. The objects for which bequests of this 
class are most frequently made at present are schools, 
libraries, hospitals, and asylums for the infirm or unfor- 
tunate. The avowed purpose of the donor in these 
cases is the amelioration of human life in the particular 
respect which is named in the bequest ; but it will be 
found an invariable rule that in the execution of the 
work not a little of other motives, frequently incompati- 
ble with the initial motive, is present and determines 
the particular disposition eventually made of a good 
share of the means which have been set apart by the 

Survivals of the Non-Invidious Interest 349 

bequest. Certain funds, for instance, may have been 
set apart as a foundation for a foundling asylum or a 
retreat for invalids. The diversion of expenditure to 
honorific waste in such cases is not uncommon enough to 
cause surprise or even to raise a smile. An apprecia- 
ble share of the funds is spent in the construction of an 
edifice faced with some aesthetically objectionable but 
expensive stone, covered with grotesque and incongru- 
ous details, and designed, in its battlemented walls and 
turrets and its massive portals and strategic approaches, 
to suggest certain barbaric methods of warfare. The 
interior of the structure shows the same pervasive 
guidance of the canons of conspicuous waste and pred- 
atory exploit. The windows, for instance, to go no 
farther into detail, are placed with a view to impress 
their pecuniary excellence upon the chance beholder 
from the outside, rather than with a view to effective- 
ness for their ostensible end in the convenience or com- 
fort of the beneficiaries within ; and the detail of interior 
arrangement is required to conform itself as best it may 
to this alien but imperious requirement of pecuniary 

In all this, of course, it is not to be presumed that 
the donor would have found fault, or that he would have 
done otherwise if he had taken control in person ; it 
appears that in those cases where such a personal direc- 
tion is exercised where the enterprise is conducted by 
direct expenditure and superintendence instead of by 
bequest the aims and methods of management are 
not different in this respect. Nor would the benefici- 
aries, or the outside observers whose ease or vanity are 

350 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

not immediately touched, be pleased with a different dis- 
position of the funds. It would suit no one to have the 
enterprise conducted with a view directly to the most 
economical and effective use of the means at hand 
for the initial, material end of the foundation. All 
concerned, whether their interest is immediate and 
self-regarding, or contemplative only, agree that some 
considerable share of the expenditure should go to 
the higher or spiritual needs derived from the habit 
of an invidious comparison in predatory exploit and 
pecuniary waste. But this only goes to say that the 
canons of emulative and pecuniary reputability so far 
pervade the common sense of the community as to 
permit no escape or evasion, even in the case of an 
enterprise which ostensibly proceeds entirely on the 
basis of a non-invidious interest. 

It may even be that the enterprise owes its honorific 
virtue, as a means of enhancing the donor's good repute, 
to the imputed presence of this non-invidious motive; 
but that does not hinder the invidious interest from 
guiding the expenditure. The effectual presence of 
motives of an emulative or invidious origin in non-emu- 
lative works of this kind might be shown at length and 
with detail, in any one of the classes of enterprise 
spoken of above. Where these honorific details occur, 
in such cases, they commonly masquerade under desig- 
nations that belong in the field of the aesthetic, ethical, 
or economic interest. These special motives, derived 
from the standards and canons of the pecuniary culture, 
act surreptitiously to divert effort of a non-invidious 
kind from effective service, without disturbing the 

Survivals of the Non-Invidious Interest 351 

agent's sense of good intention or obtruding upon his 
consciousness the substantial futility of his work. Their 
effect might be traced through the" entire range of that 
schedule of non-invidious, meliorative enterprise that is 
so considerable a feature, and especially so conspicuous 
a feature, in the overt scheme of life of the well-to-do. 
But the theoretical bearing is perhaps clear enough and 
may require no further illustration ; especially as some 
detailed attention will be given to one of these lines of 
enterprise the establishments for the higher learning 
in another connection. 

Under the circumstances of the sheltered situation 
in which the leisure class is placed there seems, there- 
fore, to be something of a reversion to the range of 
non-invidious impulses that characterise the ante-preda- 
tory savage culture. The reversion comprises both the 
sense of workmanship and the proclivity to indolence 
and good-fellowship. But in the modern scheme of life 
canons of conduct based on pecuniary or invidious 
merit stand in the way of a free exercise of these 
impulses ; and the dominant presence of these canons 
of conduct goes far to divert such efforts as are made 
on the basis of the non-invidious interest to the service 
of that invidious interest on which the pecuniary culture 
rests. The canons of pecuniary decency are reducible 
for the present purpose to the principles of waste, futil- 
ity, and ferocity. The requirements of decency are 
imperiously present in meliorative enterprise as in 
other lines of conduct, and exercise a selective surveil- 
lance over the details of conduct and management in 
any enterprise. By guiding and adapting the method 

352 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

in detail, these canons of decency go far to make all 
non-invidious aspiration or effort nugatory. The per- 
vasive, impersonal, un-eager principle of futility is at 
hand from day to day and works obstructively to hinder 
the effectual expression of so much of the surviving 
ante-predatory aptitudes as is to be classed under the 
instinct of workmanship ; but its presence does not 
preclude the transmission of those aptitudes or the con- 
tinued recurrence of an impulse to find expression for 

In the later and farther development of the pecuniary 
culture, the requirement of withdrawal from the indus- 
trial process in order to avoid social odium is carried so 
far as to comprise abstention from the emulative em- 
ployments. At this advanced stage the pecuniary cul- 
ture negatively favours the assertion of the non-invidious 
propensities by relaxing the stress laid on the merit of 
emulative, predatory, or pecuniary occupations, as com- 
pared with those of an industrial or productive kind. 
As was noticed above, the requirement of such with- 
drawal from all employment that is of human use applies 
more rigorously to the upper-class women than to any 
other class, unless the priesthood of certain cults might 
be cited as an exception, perhaps more apparent than 
real, to this rule. The reason for the more extreme in- 
sistence on a futile life for this class of women than for 
the men of the same pecuniary and social grade lies in 
their being not only an upper-grade leisure class but 
also at the same time a vicarious leisure class. There 
is in their case a double ground for a consistent with- 
drawal from useful effort. 

Survivals of the Non-Invidious Interest 353 

It has been well and repeatedly said by popular 
writers and speakers who reflect the common sense of 
intelligent people on questions of social structure and 
function that the position of woman in any community 
is the most striking index of the level of culture attained 
by the community, and it might be added, by any given 
class in the community. This remark is perhaps truer 
as regards the stage of economic development than as 
regards development in any other respect. At the same 
time the position assigned to the woman in the accepted 
scheme of life, in any community or under any culture, is 
in a very great degree an expression of traditions which 
have been shaped by the circumstances of an earlier 
phase of development, and which have been but par- 
tially adapted to the existing economic circumstances, 
or to the existing exigencies of temperament and habits 
of mind by which the women living under this modern 
economic situation are actuated. 

The fact has already been remarked upon incidentally 
in the course of the discussion of the growth of economic 
institutions generally, and in particular in speaking of 
vicarious leisure and of dress, that the position of 
women in the modern economic scheme is more widely 
and more consistently at variance with the promptings 
of the instinct of workmanship than is the position of 
the men of the same classes. It is also apparently true 
that the woman's temperament includes a larger share 
of this instinct that approves peace and disapproves 
futility. It is therefore not a fortuitous circumstance 
that the women of modern industrial communities show 
a livelier sense of the discrepancy between the accepted 


354 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

scheme of life and the exigencies of the economic 

The several phases of the "woman question" have 
brought out in intelligible form the extent to which the 
life of women in modern society, and in the polite 
circles especially, is regulated by a body of common 
sense formulated under the economic circumstances of 
an earlier phase of development. It is still felt that 
woman's life, in its civil, economic, and social bearing, is 
essentially and normally a vicarious life, the merit or 
demerit of which is, in the nature of things, to be im- 
puted to some other individual who stands in some 
relation of ownership or tutelage to the woman. So, 
for instance, any action on the part of a woman which 
traverses an injunction of the accepted schedule of pro- 
prieties is felt to reflect immediately upon the honour 
of the man whose woman she is. There may of course 
be some sense of incongruity in the mind of any one 
passing an opinion of this kind on the woman's frailty 
or perversity; but the common-sense judgment of the 
community in such matters is, after all, delivered with- 
out much hesitation, and few men would question the 
legitimacy of their sense of an outraged tutelage in 
any case that might arise. On the other hand, rela- 
tively little discredit attaches to a woman through the 
evil deeds of the man with whom her life is associated. 

The good and beautiful scheme of life, then that is 
to say the scheme to which we are habituated assigns 
to the woman a " sphere " ancillary to the activity of the 
man ; and it is felt that any departure from the tradi- 
tions of her assigned round of duties is unwomanly. If 

Survivals of the Non-Invidious Interest 355 

the question is as to civil rights or the suffrage, our 
common sense in the matter that is to say the logical 
deliverance of our general scheme of life upon the point 
in question says that the woman should be repre- 
sented in the body politic and before the law, not im- 
mediately in her own person, but through the mediation 
of the head of the household to which she belongs. It 
is unfeminine in her to aspire to a self-directing, self- 
centred life; and our common sense tells us that her 
direct participation in the affairs of the community, 
civil or industrial, is a menace to that social order 
which expresses our habits of thought as they have 
been formed under the guidance of the traditions of 
the pecuniary culture. "All this fume and froth of 
' emancipating woman from the slavery of man ' and so 
on, is, to use the chaste and expressive language of 
Elizabeth Cady Stanton inversely, 'utter rot.' The 
social relations of the sexes are fixed by nature. Our 
entire civilisation that is whatever is good in it is 
based on the home." The "home" is the household 
with a male head. This view, but commonly expressed 
even more chastely, is the prevailing view of the woman's 
status, not only among the common run of the men of 
civilised communities, but among the women as well. 
Women have a very alert sense of what the scheme of 
proprieties requires, and while it is true that many of 
them are ill at ease under the details which the code 
imposes, there are few who do not recognise that the 
existing moral order, of necessity and by the divine 
right of prescription, places the woman in a position 
ancillary to the man. In the last analysis, according 

356 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

to her own sense of what is good and beautiful, the 
woman's life is, and in theory must be, an expression of 
the man's life at the second remove. 

But in spite of this pervading sense of what is the 
good and natural place for the woman, there is also per- 
ceptible an incipient development of sentiment to the 
effect that this whole arrangement of tutelage and 
vicarious life and imputation of merit and demerit is 
somehow a mistake. Or, at least, that even if it may 
be a natural growth and a good arrangement in its time 
and place, and in spite of its patent aesthetic value, still 
it does not adequately serve the more everyday ends of 
life in a modern industrial community. Even that large 
and substantial body of well-bred, upper and middle-class 
women to whose dispassionate, matronly sense of the 
traditional proprieties this relation of status commends 
itself as fundamentally and eternally right even these, 
whose attitude is conservative, commonly find some 
slight discrepancy in detail between things as they are 
and as they should be in this respect. But that less 
manageable body of modern women who, by force of 
youth, education, or temperament, are in some degree 
out of touch with the traditions of status received from 
the barbarian culture, and in whom there is, perhaps, an 
undue reversion to the impulse of self-expression and 
workmanship, these are touched with a sense of 
grievance too vivid to leave them at rest. 

In this "New- Woman" movement, as these blind 
and incoherent efforts to rehabilitate the woman's pre-gla- 
cial standing have been named, there are at least two 
elements discernible, both of which are of an economic 

Survivals of the Non-Invidious Interest 357 

character. These two elements or motives are ex- 
pressed by the double watchword, " Emancipation " and 
"Work." Each of these words is recognised to stand 
for something in the way of a wide-spread sense of 
grievance. The prevalence of the sentiment is recog- 
nised even by people who do not see that there is any 
real ground for a grievance in the situation as it stands 
to-day. It is among the women of the well-to-do classes, 
in the communities which are farthest advanced in 
industrial development, that this sense of a grievance 
to be redressed is most alive and finds most frequent 
expression. That is to say, in other words, there is a 
demand, more or less serious, for emancipation from all 
relation of status, tutelage, or vicarious life ; and the 
revulsion asserts itself especially among the class of 
women upon whom the scheme of life handed down 
from the regime of status imposes with least mitigation 
a vicarious life, and in those communities whose eco- 
nomic development has departed farthest from the cir- 
cumstances to which this traditional scheme is adapted. 
The demand comes from that portion of womankind 
which is excluded by the canons of good repute from 
all effectual work, and which is closely reserved for a 
life of leisure and conspicuous consumption. 

More than one critic of this new-woman movement 
has misapprehended its motive. The case of the Amer- 
ican "new woman" has lately been summed up with 
some warmth by a popular observer of social phenom- 
ena: "She is petted by her husband, the most devoted 
and hard-working of husbands in the world. . . . She 
is the superior of her husband in education, and in 

358 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

almost every respect. She is surrounded by the most 
numerous and delicate attentions. Yet she is not satis- 
fied. . . . The Anglo-Saxon ' new woman ' is the most 
ridiculous production of modern times, and destined to 
be the most ghastly failure of the century." Apart 
from the deprecation perhaps well placed which is 
contained in this presentment, it adds nothing but 
obscurity to the woman question. The grievance of 
the new woman is made up of those things which this 
typical characterisation of the movement urges as 
reasons why she should be content. She is petted, and 
is permitted, or even required, to consume largely and 
conspicuously vicariously for her husband or other 
natural guardian. She is exempted, or debarred, from 
vulgarly useful employment in order to perform 
leisure vicariously for the good repute of her natural 
(pecuniary) guardian. These offices are the conven- 
tional marks of the un-free, at the same time that they 
are incompatible with the human impulse to purposeful 
activity. But the woman is endowed with her share 
which there is reason to believe is more than an even 
share of the instinct of workmanship, to which 
futility of life or of expenditure is obnoxious. She 
must unfold her life activity in response to the direct, 
unmediated stimuli of the economic environment with 
which she is in contact. The impulse is perhaps 
stronger upon the woman than upon the man to live 
her own life in her own way and to enter the industrial 
process of the community at something nearer than the 
second remove. 

So long as the woman's place is consistently that of a 

Stirvivals of the Non-Invidious Interest 359 

drudge, she is, in the average of cases, fairly contented 
with her lot. She not only has something tangible and 
purposeful to do, but she has also no time or thought 
to spare for a rebellious assertion of such human pro- 
pensity to self-direction as she has inherited. And 
after the stage of universal female drudgery is passed, 
and a vicarious leisure without strenuous application 
becomes the accredited employment of the women of 
the well-to-do classes, the prescriptive force of the canon 
of pecuniary decency, which requires the observance of 
ceremonial futility on their part, will long preserve high- 
minded women from any sentimental leaning to self- 
direction and a "sphere of usefulness." This is espe- 
cially true during the earlier phases of the pecuniary 
culture, while the leisure of the leisure class is still in 
great measure a predatory activity, an active assertion 
of mastery in which there is enough of tangible purpose 
of an invidious kind to admit of its being taken seri- 
ously as an employment to which one may without 
shame put one's hand. This condition of things has 
obviously lasted well down into the present in some 
communities. It continues to hold to a different extent 
for different individuals, varying with the vividness of 
the sense of status and with the feebleness of the im- 
pulse to workmanship with which the individual is 
endowed. But where the economic structure of the 
community has so far outgrown the scheme of life based 
on status that the relation of personal subservience is 
no longer felt to be the sole "natural " human relation; 
there the ancient habit of purposeful activity will begin 
to assert itself in the less conformable individuals, 

360 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

against the more recent, relatively superficial, relatively 
ephemeral habits and views which the predatory and 
the pecuniary culture have contributed to our scheme 
of life. These habits and views begin to lose their 
coercive force for the community or the class in ques- 
tion so soon as the habit of mind and the views of life 
due to the predatory and the quasi-peaceable discipline 
cease to be in fairly close accord with the later-developed 
economic situation. This is evident in the case of the 
industrious classes of modern communities; for them 
the leisure-class scheme of life has lost much of its 
binding force, especially as regards the element of 
status. But it is also visibly being verified in the 
case of the upper classes, though not in the same 

The habits derived from the predatory and quasi- 
peaceable culture are relatively ephemeral variants of 
certain underlying propensities and mental character- 
istics of the race; which it owes to the protracted dis- 
cipline of the earlier, proto-anthropoid cultural stage 
of peaceable, relatively undifferentiated economic life 
carried on in contact with a relatively simple and inva- 
riable material environment. When the habits superin- 
duced by the emulative method of life have ceased to 
enjoy the sanction of existing economic exigencies, a 
process of disintegration sets in whereby the habits 
of thought of more recent growth and of a less generic 
character to some extent yield the ground before the 
more ancient and more pervading spiritual character- 
istics of the race. 

In a sense, then, the new-woman movement marks 

Survivals of the Non-Invidwis Interest 361 

a reversion to a more generic type of human character, 
or to a less differentiated expression of human nature. 
It is a type of human nature which is to be character- 
ised as proto-anthropoid, and, as regards the substance 
if not the form of its dominant traits, it belongs to a 
cultural stage that may be classed as possibly sub- 
human. The particular movement or evolutional feat- 
ure in question of course shares this characterisation 
with the rest of the later social development, in so far 
as this social development shows evidence of a rever- 
sion to the spiritual attitude that characterises the 
earlier, undifferentiated stage of economic evolution. 
Such evidence of a general tendency to reversion from 
the dominance of the invidious interest is not entirely 
wanting, although it is neither plentiful nor unquestion- 
ably convincing. The general decay of the sense of 
status in modern industrial communities goes some way 
as evidence in this direction; and the perceptible return 
to a disapproval of futility in human life, and a disap- 
proval of such activities as serve only the individual 
gain at the cost of the collectivity or at the cost of 
other social groups, is evidence to a like effect. There 
is a perceptible tendency to deprecate the infliction of 
pain, as well as to discredit all marauding enterprises, 
even where these expressions of the invidious interest 
do not tangibly work to the material detriment of the 
community or of the individual who passes an opinion 
on them. It may even be said that in the modern 
industrial communities the average, dispassionate sense 
of men says that the ideal human character is a char- 
acter which makes for peace, good-will, and economic 

362 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

efficiency, rather than for a life of self-seeking, force, 
fraud, and mastery. 

The influence of the leisure class is not consistently 
for or against the rehabilitation of this proto-anthropoid 
human nature. So far as concerns the chance of sur- 
vival of individuals endowed with an exceptionally large 
share of the primitive traits, the sheltered position of 
the class favours its members directly by withdrawing 
them from the pecuniary struggle ; but indirectly, 
through the leisure-class canons of conspicuous waste 
of goods and effort, the institution of a leisure class les- 
sens the chance of survival of such individuals in the 
entire body of the population. The decent require- 
ments of waste absorb the surplus energy of the popu- 
lation in an invidious struggle and leave no margin for 
the non-invidious expression of life. The remoter, less 
tangible, spiritual effects of the discipline of decency go 
in the same direction and work perhaps more effectually 
to the same end. The canons of decent life are an 
elaboration of the principle of invidious comparison, 
and they accordingly act consistently to inhibit all non- 
invidious effort and to inculcate the self-regarding 


To the end that suitable habits of thought on cer- 
tain heads may be conserved in the incoming genera- 
tion, a scholastic discipline is sanctioned by the common 
sense of the community and incorporated into the ac- 
credited scheme of life. The habits of thought which 
are so formed under the guidance of teachers and scho- 
lastic traditions have an economic value a value as 
affecting the serviceability of the individual no less 
real than the similar economic value of the habits of 
thought formed without such guidance under the disci- 
pline of everyday life. Whatever characteristics of the 
accredited scholastic scheme and discipline are traceable 
to the predilections of the leisure class or to the guid- 
ance of the canons of pecuniary merit are to be set 
down to the account of that institution, and whatever 
economic value these features of the educational scheme 
possess are the expression in detail of the value of that 
institution. It will be in place, therefore, to point out 
any peculiar features of the educational system which 
are traceable to the leisure-class scheme of life, whether 
as regards the aim and method of the discipline, or as 
regards the compass and character of the body of 


364 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

knowledge inculcated. It is in learning proper, and 
more particularly in the higher learning, that the influ- 
ence of leisure-class ideals is most patent ; and since 
the purpose here is not to make an exhaustive collation 
of data showing the effect of the pecuniary culture upon 
education, but rather to illustrate the method and trend 
of leisure-class influence in education, a survey of cer- 
tain salient features of the higher learning, such as may 
serve this purpose, is all that will be attempted. 

In point of derivation and early development, learning 
is somewhat closely related to the devotional function 
of the community, particularly to the body of observ- 
ances in which the service rendered the supernatural 
leisure class expresses itself. The service by which it 
is sought to conciliate supernatural agencies in the 
primitive cults is not an industrially profitable employ- 
ment of the community's time and effort. It is, there- 
fore, in great part, to be classed as a vicarious leisure 
performed for the supernatural powers with whom ne- 
gotiations are carried on and whose good-will the service 
and the professions of subservience are conceived to 
procure. In great part, the early learning consisted 
in an acquisition of knowledge and facility in the ser- 
vice of a supernatural agent. It was therefore closely 
analogous in character to the training required for the 
domestic service of a temporal master. To a great 
extent, the knowledge acquired under the priestly 
teachers of the primitive community was a knowledge 
of ritual and ceremonial ; that is to say, a knowledge of 
the most proper, most effective, or most acceptable 
manner of approaching and of serving the preternatural 

The Higher Learning 365 

agents. What was learned was how to make oneself 
indispensable to these powers, and so to put oneself in 
a position to ask, or even to require, their intercession 
in the course of events or their abstention from inter- 
ference in any given enterprise. Propitiation was the 
end, and this end was sought, in great part, by acquir- 
ing facility in subservience. It appears to have been 
only gradually that other elements than those of effi- 
cient service of the master found their way into the 
stock of priestly or shamanistic instruction. 

The priestly servitor of the inscrutable powers that 
move in the external world came to stand in the posi- 
tion of a mediator between these powers and the 
common run of uninstructed humanity ; for he was 
possessed of a knowledge of the supernatural etiquette 
which would admit him into the presence. And as 
commonly happens with mediators between the vulgar 
and their masters, whether the masters be natural or 
preternatural, he found it expedient to have the means 
at hand tangibly to impress upon the vulgar the fact 
that these inscrutable powers would do what he might 
ask of them. Hence, presently, a knowledge of certain 
natural processes which could be turned to account for 
spectacular effect, together with some sleight of hand, 
came to be an integral part of priestly lore. Knowledge 
of this kind passes for knowledge of the " unknowable," 
and it owes its serviceability for the sacerdotal purpose 
to its recondite character. It appears to have been 
from this source that learning, as an institution, arose, 
and its differentiation from this its parent stock of 
magic ritual and shamanistic fraud has been slow and 

366 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

tedious, and is scarcely yet complete even in the most 
advanced of the higher seminaries of learning. 

The recondite element in learning is still, as it has 
been in all ages, a very attractive and effective element 
for the purpose of impressing, or even imposing upon, 
the unlearned ; and the standing of the savant in the 
mind of the altogether unlettered is in great measure 
rated in terms of intimacy with the occult forces. So, 
for instance, as a typical case, even so late as the 
middle of this century, the Norwegian peasants have 
instinctively formulated their sense of the superior 
erudition of such doctors of divinity as Luther, Melanch- 
thon, Peder Dass, and even so late a scholar in divinity 
as Grundtvig, in terms of the Black Art. These, to- 
gether with a very comprehensive list of minor celeb- 
rities, both living and dead, have been reputed masters 
in all magical arts ; and a high position in the ecclesi- 
astical personnel has carried with it, in the apprehen- 
sion of these good people, an implication of profound 
familiarity with magical practice and the occult sciences. 
There is a parallel fact nearer home, similarly going to 
show the close relationship, in popular apprehension, 
between erudition and the unknowable ; and it will at 
the same time serve to illustrate, in somewhat coarse 
outline, the bent which leisure-class life gives to the 
cognitive interest. While the belief is by no means 
confined to the leisure class, that class to-day comprises 
a disproportionately large number of believers in occult 
sciences of all kinds and shades. By those whose 
habits of thought are not shaped by contact with 
modern industry, the knowledge of the unknowable 

The Higher Learning 367 

is still felt to be the ultimate if not the only true 

Learning, then, set out with being in some sense a 
by-product of the priestly vicarious leisure class ; and, 
at least until a recent date, the higher learning has 
since remained in some sense a by-product or by-occu- 
pation of the priestly classes. As the body of system- 
atised knowledge increased, there presently arose a 
distinction, traceable very far back in the history of 
education, between esoteric and exoteric knowledge ; 
the former so far as there is a substantial difference 
between the two comprising such knowledge as is 
primarily of no economic or industrial effect, and the 
latter comprising chiefly knowledge of industrial pro- 
cesses and of natural phenomena which were habitually 
turned to account for the material purposes of life. 
This line of demarcation has in time become, at least 
in popular apprehension, the normal line between the 
higher learning and the lower. 

It is significant, not only as an evidence of their close 
affiliation with the priestly craft, but also as indicating 
that their activity to a good extent falls under that 
category of conspicuous leisure known as manners and 
breeding, that the learned class in all primitive com- 
munities are great sticklers for form, precedent, grada- 
tions of rank, ritual, ceremonial vestments, and learned 
paraphernalia generally. This is of course to be ex- 
pected, and it goes to say that the higher learning, in 
its incipient phase, is a leisure-class occupation more 
specifically an occupation of the vicarious leisure class 
employed in the service of the supernatural leisure 

368 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

class. But this predilection for the paraphernalia of 
learning goes also to indicate a further point of contact 
or of continuity between the priestly office and the 
office of the savant. In point of derivation, learning, 
as well as the priestly office, is largely an outgrowth of 
sympathetic magic ; and this magical apparatus of form 
and ritual therefore finds its place with the learned 
class of the primitive community as a matter of course. 
The ritual and paraphernalia have an occult efficacy for 
the magical purpose ; so that their presence as an 
integral factor in the earlier phases of the development 
of magic and science is a matter of expediency, quite as 
much as of affectionate regard for symbolism simply. 

This sense of the efficacy of symbolic ritual, and of 
sympathetic effect to be wrought through dexterous 
rehearsal of the traditional accessories of the act or end 
to be compassed, is of course present more obviously 
and in larger measure in magical practice than in the 
discipline of the sciences, even of the occult sciences. 
But there are, I apprehend, few persons with a culti- 
vated sense of scholastic merit to whom the ritualistic 
accessories of science are altogether an idle matter. 
The very great tenacity with which these ritualistic 
paraphernalia persist through the later course of the 
development is evident to any one who will reflect on 
what has been the history of learning in our civilisation. 
Even to-day there are such things in the usage of the 
learned community as the cap and gown, matriculation, 
initiation, and graduation ceremonies, and the confer- 
ring of scholastic degrees, dignities, and prerogatives 
in a way which suggests some sort of a scholarly apos- 

The Higher Learning 369 

tolic succession. The usage of the priestly orders is 
no doubt the proximate source of all these features of 
learned ritual, vestments, sacramental initiation, the 
transmission of peculiar dignities and virtues by the 
imposition of hands, and the like ; but their derivation 
is traceable back of this point, to the source from which 
the specialised priestly class proper received them in 
the course of differentiation by which the priest came 
to be distinguished from the sorcerer on the one hand 
and from the menial servant of a temporal master on 
the other hand. So far as regards both their derivation 
and their psychological content, these usages and the 
conceptions on which they rest belong to a stage in 
cultural development no later than that of the angekok 
and the rain-maker. Their place in the later phases of 
devout observance, as well as in the higher educational 
system, is that of a survival from a very early animistic 
phase of the development of human nature. 

These ritualistic features of the educational system 
of the present and of the recent past, it is quite safe to 
say, have their place primarily in the higher, liberal, 
and classic institutions and grades of learning, rather 
than in the lower, technological, or practical grades and 
branches of the system. So far as they possess them, 
the lower and less reputable branches of the educa- 
tional scheme have evidently borrowed these things 
from the higher grades ; and their continued persist- 
ence among the practical schools, without the sanction 
of the continued example of the higher and classic 
grades, would be highly improbable, to say the least. 
With the lower and practical schools and scholars, the 

3/O The Theory of the Leisure Class 

adoption and cultivation of these usages is a case of 
mimicry due to a desire to conform as far as may be 
to the standards of scholastic reputability maintained 
by the upper grades and classes, who have come by 
these accessory features legitimately, by the right of 
lineal devolution. 

The analysis may even be safely carried a step 
farther. Ritualistic survivals and reversions come out 
in fullest vigour and with the freest air of spontaneity 
among those seminaries of learning which have to do 
primarily with the education of the priestly and leisure 
classes. Accordingly it should appear, and it does 
pretty plainly appear, on a survey of recent developments 
in college and university life, that wherever schools 
founded for the instruction of the lower classes in the 
immediately useful branches of knowledge grow into 
institutions of the higher learning, the growth of ritual- 
istic ceremonial and paraphernalia and of elaborate schol- 
astic "functions" goes hand in hand with the transition 
of the schools in question from the field of homely prac- 
ticality into the higher, classical sphere. The initial 
purpose of these schools, and the work with which they 
have chiefly had to do at the earlier of these two stages 
of their evolution, has been that of fitting the young of 
the industrious classes for work. On the higher, classical 
plane of learning to which they commonly tend, their 
dominant aim becomes the preparation of the youth of 
the priestly and the leisure classes or of an incipient 
leisure class for the consumption of goods, material 
and immaterial, according to a conventionally ac- 
cepted, reputable scope and method. This happy issue 

The Higher Learning 371 

has commonly been the fate of schools founded by 
" friends of the people " for the aid of struggling young 
men, and where this transition is made in good form 
there is commonly, if not invariably, a coincident change 
to a more ritualistic life in the schools. 

In the school life of to-day, learned ritual is in a 
general way best at home in schools whose chief end is 
the cultivation of the "humanities." This correlation 
is shown, perhaps more neatly than anywhere else, in 
the life-history of the American colleges and universities 
of recent growth. There may be many exceptions from 
the rule, especially among those schools which have 
been founded by the typically reputable and ritualistic 
churches, and which, therefore, started on the conser- 
vative and classical plane or reached the classical 
position by a short-cut ; but the general rule as regards 
the colleges founded in the newer American communi- 
ties during the present century has been that so long 
as the community has remained poor, and so long as the 
constituency from which the colleges have drawn their 
pupils has been dominated by habits of industry and 
thrift, so long the reminiscences of the medicine-man 
have found but a scant and precarious acceptance in 
the scheme of college life. But so soon as wealth 
begins appreciably to accumulate in the community, 
and so soon as a given school begins to lean on a 
leisure-class constituency, there comes also a percep- 
tibly increased insistence on scholastic ritual and on 
conformity to the ancient forms as regards vestments 
and social and scholastic solemnities. So, for instance, 
there has been an approximate coincidence between 

372 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

the growth of wealth among the constituency which 
supports any given college of the Middle West and the 
date of acceptance first into tolerance and then into 
imperative vogue of evening dress for men and of 
the d6collet6 for women, as the scholarly vestments 
proper to occasions of learned solemnity or to the 
seasons of social amenity within the college circle. 
Apart from the mechanical difficulty of so large a task, 
it would scarcely be a difficult matter to trace this 
correlation. The like is true of the vogue of the cap 
and gown. 

Cap and gown have been adopted as learned insignia 
by many colleges of this section within the last few 
years ; and it is safe to say that this could scarcely have 
occurred at a much earlier date, or until there had grown 
up a leisure-class sentiment of sufficient volume in the 
community to support a strong movement of reversion 
towards an archaic view as to the legitimate end of edu- 
cation. This particular item of learned ritual, it may 
be noted, would not only commend itself to the leisure- 
class sense of the fitness of things, as appealing to the 
archaic propensity for spectacular effect and the predi- 
lection for antique symbolism ; but it at the same time 
fits into the leisure-class scheme of life as involving a 
notable element of conspicuous waste. The precise 
date at which the reversion to cap and gown took place, 
as well as the fact that it affected so large a number of 
schools at about the same time, seems to have been 
due in some measure to a wave of atavistic sense of 
conformity and reputability that passed over the com- 
munity at that period. 

The Higher Learning 373 

It may not be entirely beside the point to note that 
in point of time this curious reversion seems to coincide 
with the culmination of a certain vogue of atavistic 
sentiment and tradition in other directions also. The 
wave of reversion seems to have received its initial 
impulse in the psychologically disintegrating effects of 
the Civil War. Habituation to war entails a body of 
predatory habits of thought, whereby clannishness 
in some measure replaces the sense of solidarity, and 
a sense of invidious distinction supplants the impulse 
to equitable, everyday serviceability. As an outcome 
of the cumulative action of these factors, the genera- 
tion which follows a season of war is apt to witness a 
rehabilitation of the element of status, both in its social 
life and in its scheme of devout observances and other 
symbolic or ceremonial forms. Throughout the eigh- 
ties, and less plainly traceable through the seventies 
also, there was perceptible a gradually advancing wave 
of sentiment favouring quasi-predatory business habits, 
insistence on status, anthropomorphism, and conserva- 
tism generally. The more direct and unmediated of 
these expressions of the barbarian temperament, such 
as the recrudescence of outlawry and the spectacular 
quasi-predatory careers of fraud run by certain "cap- 
tains of industry," came to a head earlier and were 
appreciably on the decline by the close of the seventies. 
The recrudescence of anthropomorphic sentiment also 
seems to have passed its most acute stage before the 
close of the eighties. But the learned ritual and para- 
phernalia here spoken of are a still remoter and more 
recondite expression of the barbarian animistic sense; 

374 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

and these, therefore, gained vogue and elaboration more 
slowly and reached their most effective development at 
a still later date. There is reason to believe that the 
culmination is now already past. Except for the new 
impetus given by a new war experience, and except for 
the support which the growth of a wealthy class affords to 
all ritual, and especially to whatever ceremonial is waste- 
ful and pointedly suggests gradations of status, it is 
probable that the late improvements and augmentation 
of scholastic insignia and ceremonial would gradually 
decline. But while it may be true that the cap and 
gown, and the more strenuous observance of scholastic 
proprieties which came with them, were floated in on 
this post-bellum tidal wave of reversion to barbarism, it 
is also no doubt true that such a ritualistic reversion 
could not have been effected in the college scheme of 
life until the accumulation of wealth in the hands of 
a propertied class had gone far enough to afford the 
requisite pecuniary ground for a movement which should 
bring the colleges of the country up to the leisure-class 
requirements in the higher learning. The adoption of 
the cap and gown is one of the striking atavistic feat- 
ures of modern college life, and at the same time it 
marks the fact that these colleges have definitively 
become leisure-class establishments, either in actual 
achievement or in aspiration. 

As further evidence of the close relation between 
the educational system and the cultural standards of 
the community, it may be remarked that there is some 
tendency latterly to substitute the captain of industry 
in place of the priest, as the head of seminaries of the 

The Higher Learning 375 

higher learning. The substitution is by no means 
complete or unequivocal. Those heads of institutions 
are best accepted who combine the sacerdotal office 
with a high degree of pecuniary efficiency. There is 
a similar but less pronounced tendency to intrust the 
work of instruction in the higher learning to men of 
some pecuniary qualification. Administrative ability 
and skill in advertising the enterprise count for rather 
more than they once did, as qualifications for the work 
of teaching. This applies especially in those sciences 
that have most to do with the everyday facts of life, 
and it is particularly true of schools in the economically 
single-minded communities. This partial substitution 
of pecuniary for sacerdotal efficiency is a concomitant 
of the modern transition from conspicuous leisure to 
conspicuous consumption, as the chief means of reputa- 
bility. The correlation of the two facts is probably 
clear without further elaboration. 

The attitude of the schools and of the learned class 
towards the education of women serves to show in what 
manner and to what extent learning has departed from 
its ancient station of priestly and leisure-class preroga- 
tive, and it indicates also what approach has been made 
by the truly learned to the modern, economic or indus- 
trial, matter-of-fact standpoint. The higher schools and 
the learned professions were until recently tabu to the 
women. These establishments were from the outset, 
and have in great measure continued to be, devoted to 
the education of the priestly and leisure classes. 

The women, as has been shown elsewhere, were the 
original subservient class, and to some extent, espe- 

3/6 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

cially so far as regards their nominal or ceremonial po- 
sition, they have remained in that relation down to the 
present. There has prevailed a strong sense that the 
admission of women to the privileges of the higher 
learning (as to the Eleusinian mysteries) would be 
derogatory to the dignity of the learned craft. It is 
therefore only very recently, and almost solely in the 
industrially most advanced communities, that the higher 
grades of schools have been freely opened to women. 
And even under the urgent circumstances prevailing in 
the modern industrial communities, the highest and 
most reputable universities show an extreme reluctance 
in making the move. The sense of class worthiness, 
that is to say of status, of a honorific differentiation of 
the sexes according to a distinction between superior 
and inferior intellectual dignity, survives in a vigorous 
form in these corporations of the aristocracy of learn- 
ing. It is felt that the women should, in all propriety, 
acquire only such knowledge as may be classed under 
one or the other of two heads : (i) such knowledge as 
conduces immediately to a better performance of domes- 
tic service the domestic sphere ; (2) such accomplish- 
ments and dexterity, quasi-scholarly and quasi-artistic, 
as plainly come in under the head of a performance of 
vicarious leisure. Knowledge is felt to be unfeminine 
if it is knowledge which expresses the unfolding of the 
learner's own life, the acquisition of which proceeds on 
the learner's own cognitive interest, without prompting 
from the canons of propriety, and without reference 
back to a master whose comfort or good repute is to 
be enhanced by the employment or the exhibition of 

Higher Learning 377 

it. So, also, all knowledge which is useful as evidence 
of leisure, other than vicarious leisure, is scarcely 

For an appreciation of the relation which these 
higher seminaries of learning bear to the economic life 
of the community, the phenomena which have been 
reviewed are of importance rather as indications of 
a general attitude than as being in themselves facts 
of first-rate economic consequence. They go to show 
what is the instinctive attitude and animus of the 
learned class towards the life process of an industrial 
community. They serve as an exponent of the stage 
of development, for the industrial purpose, attained 
by the higher learning and by the learned class, and 
so they afford an indication as to what may fairly be 
looked for from this class at points where the learning 
and the life of the class bear more immediately upon 
the economic life and efficiency of the community, and 
upon the adjustment of its scheme of life to the require- 
ments of the time. What these ritualistic survivals go 
to indicate is a prevalence of conservatism, if not of 
reactionary sentiment, especially among the higher 
schools where the conventional learning is cultivated. 

To these indications of a conservative attitude is to 
be added another characteristic which goes in the same 
direction, but which is a symptom of graver consequence 
than this playful inclination to trivialities of form and 
ritual. By far the greater number of American colleges 
and universities, for instance, are affiliated to some reli- 
gious denomination and are somewhat given to devout 
observances. Their putative familiarity with scientific 

3/8 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

methods and the scientific point of view should presum- 
ably exempt the faculties of these schools from animistic 
habits of thought ; but there is still a considerable pro- 
portion of them who profess an attachment to the an- 
thropomorphic beliefs and observances of an earlier 
culture. These professions of devotional zeal are, no 
doubt, to a good extent expedient and perfunctory, both 
on the part of the schools in their corporate capacity, 
and on the part of the individual members of the corps 
of instructors ; but it can not be doubted that there is 
after all a very appreciable element of anthropomorphic 
sentiment present in the higher schools. So far as this 
is the case it must be set down as the expression of an 
archaic, animistic habit of mind. This habit of mind 
must necessarily assert itself to some extent in the 
instruction offered, and to this extent its influence in 
shaping the habits of thought of the student makes for 
conservatism and reversion ; it acts to hinder his devel- 
opment in the direction of matter-of-fact knowledge, 
such as best serves the ends of industry. 

The college sports, which have so great a vogue in 
the reputable seminaries of learning to-day, tend in a 
similar direction ; and, indeed, sports have much in com- 
mon with the devout attitude of the colleges, both as 
regards their psychological basis and as regards their 
disciplinary effect. But this expression of the barbarian 
temperament is to be credited primarily to the body of 
students, rather than to the temper of the schools as 
such ; except in so far as the colleges or the college 
officials as sometimes happens actively countenance 
and foster the growth of sports. The like is true of col- 

The Higher Learning 379 

lege fraternities as of college sporty but with a difference. 
The latter are chiefly an expression of the predatory 
impulse simply ; the former are more specifically an ex- 
pression of that heritage of clannishness which is so 
large a feature in the temperament of the predatory 
barbarian. It is also noticeable that a close relation 
subsists between the fraternities and the sporting activ- 
ity of the schools. After what has already been said in 
an earlier chapter on the sporting and gambling habit, 
it is scarcely necessary further to discuss the economic 
value of this training in sports and in factional organisa- 
tion and activity. 

But all these features of the scheme of life of the 
learned class, and of the establishments dedicated to the 
conservation of the higher learning, are in a great meas- 
ure incidental only. They are scarcely to be accounted 
organic elements of the professed work of research and 
instruction for the ostensible pursuit of which the 
schools exist. But these symptomatic indications go to 
establish a presumption as to the character of the work 
performed as seen from the economic point of view 
and as to the bent which the serious work carried on 
under their auspices gives to the youth who resort to the 
schools. The presumption raised by the considerations 
already offered is that in their work also, as well as in 
their ceremonial, the higher schools may be expected to 
take a conservative position ; but this presumption must 
be checked by a comparison of the economic character 
of the work actually performed, and by something of a 
survey of the learning whose conservation is intrusted 
to the higher schools. On this head, it is well known 

380 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

that the accredited seminaries of learning have, until a 
recent date, held a conservative position. They have 
taken an attitude of deprecation towards all innovations. 
As a general rule a new point of view or a new formula- 
tion of knowledge have been countenanced and taken up 
within the schools only after these new things have 
made their way outside of the schools. As exceptions 
from this rule are chiefly to be mentioned innovations of 
an inconspicuous kind and departures which do not bear 
in any tangible way upon the conventional point of 
view or upon the conventional scheme of life ; as, for 
instance, details of fact in the mathematico-physical 
sciences, and new readings and interpretations of the 
classics, especially such as have a philological or literary 
bearing only. Except within the domain of the "hu- 
manities," in the narrow sense, and except so far as the 
traditional point of view of the humanities has been left 
intact by the innovators, it has generally held true that 
the accredited learned class and the seminaries of the 
higher learning have looked askance at all innovation. 
New views, new departures in scientific theory, espe- 
cially new departures which touch the theory of human 
relations at any point, have found a place in the scheme 
of the university tardily and by a reluctant tolerance, 
rather than by a cordial welcome; and the men who 
have occupied themselves with such efforts to widen the 
scope of human knowledge have not commonly been 
well received by their learned contemporaries. The 
higher schools have not commonly given their counte- 
nance to a serious advance in the methods or the content 
of knowledge until the innovations have outlived their 

The Higher Learning 381 

youth and much of their usefulness after they have 
become commonplaces of the intellectual furniture of a 
new generation which has grown up under, and has had 
its habits of thought shaped by, the new, extra-scholastic 
body of knowledge and the new standpoint. This is 
true of the recent past. How far it may be true of the 
immediate present it would be hazardous to say, for it 
is impossible to see present-day facts in such perspec- 
tive as to get a fair conception of their relative pro- 

So far, nothing has been said of the Maecenas func- 
tion of the well-to-do, which is habitually dwelt on at 
some length by writers and speakers who treat of the 
development of culture and of social structure. This 
leisure-class function is not without an important bear- 
ing on the higher learning and on the spread of know- 
ledge and culture. The manner and the degree in 
which the class furthers learning through patronage 
of this kind is sufficiently familiar. It has been fre- 
quently presented in affectionate and effective terms 
by spokesmen whose familiarity with the topic fits them 
to bring home to their hearers the profound significance 
of this cultural factor. These spokesmen, however, 
have presented the matter from the point of view of 
the cultural interest, or of the interest of reputability, 
rather than from that of the economic interest. As 
apprehended from the economic point of view, and 
valued for the purpose of industrial serviceability, this 
function of the well-to-do, as well as the intellectual 
attitude of members of the well-to-do class, merits some 
attention and will bear illustration. 

382 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

By way of characterisation of the Maecenas relation, 
it is to be noted that, considered externally, as an eco- 
nomic or industrial relation simply, it is a relation of 
status. The scholar under patronage performs the 
duties of a learned life vicariously for his patron, to 
whom a certain repute inures after the manner of the 
good repute imputed to a master for whom any form of 
vicarious leisure is performed. It is also to be noted 
that, in point of historical fact, the furtherance of learn- 
ing or the maintenance of scholarly activity through 
the Maecenas relation has most commonly been a fur- 
therance of proficiency in classical lore or in the hu- 
manities. This knowledge tends to lower rather than 
to heighten the industrial efficiency of the community. 

Further, as regards the direct participation of the 
members of the leisure class in the furtherance of know- 
ledge. The canons of reputable living act to throw 
such intellectual interest as seeks expression among the 
class on the side of classical and formal erudition, rather 
than on the side of the sciences that bear some relation 
to the community's industrial life. The most frequent 
excursions into other than classical fields of knowledge 
on the part of members of the leisure class are made 
into the discipline of law and of the political, and more 
especially the administrative, sciences. These so-called 
sciences are substantially bodies of maxims of expedi- 
ency for guidance in the leisure-class office of govern- 
ment, as conducted on a proprietary basis. The interest 
with which this discipline is approached is therefore not 
commonly the intellectual or cognitive interest simply. 
It is largely the practical interest of the exigencies of 

The Higher Learning 383 

that relation of mastery in which the members of the 
class are placed. In point of derivation, the office of 
government is a predatory function, pertaining integrally 
to the archaic leisure-class scheme of life. It is an 
exercise of control and coercion over the population 
from which the class draws its sustenance. This dis- 
cipline, as well as the incidents of practice which give 
it its content, therefore has some attraction for 
the class apart from all questions of cognition. All 
this holds true wherever and so long as the govern- 
mental office continues, in form or in substance, to be 
a proprietary office ; and it holds true beyond that limit, 
in so far as the tradition of the more archaic phase of 
governmental evolution has lasted on into the later 
life of those modern communities for whom proprietary 
government by a leisure class is now beginning to pass 

For that field of learning within which the cognitive 
or intellectual interest is dominant the sciences prop- 
erly so called the case is somewhat different, not 
only as regards the attitude of the leisure class, but 
as regards the whole drift of the pecuniary culture. 
Knowledge for its own sake, the exercise of the faculty 
of comprehension without ulterior purpose, should, it 
might be expected, be sought by men whom no urgent 
material interest diverts from such a quest. The shel- 
tered industrial position of the leisure class should give 
free play to the cognitive interest in members of this 
class, and we should consequently have, as many writ- 
ers confidently find that we do have, a very large pro- 
portion of scholars, scientists, savants derived from this 

384 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

class and deriving their incentive to scientific investi- 
gation and speculation from the discipline of a life of 
leisure. Some such result is to be looked for, but 
there are features of the leisure-class scheme of life, 
already sufficiently dwelt upon, which go to divert the 
intellectual interest of this class to other subjects than 
that causal sequence in phenomena which makes the 
content of the sciences. The habits of thought which 
characterise the life of the class run on the personal 
relation of dominance, and on the derivative, invidious 
concepts of honour, worth, merit, character, and the like. 
The causal sequence which makes up the subject mat- 
ter of science is not visible from this point of view. 
Neither does good repute attach to knowledge of facts 
that are vulgarly useful. Hence it should appear prob- 
able that the interest of the invidious comparison with 
respect to pecuniary or other honorific merit should 
occupy the attention of the leisure class, to the neglect 
of the cognitive interest. Where this latter interest 
asserts itself it should commonly be diverted to fields 
of speculation or investigation which are reputable and 
futile, rather than to the quest of scientific knowledge. 
Such indeed has been the history of priestly and 
leisure-class learning so long as no considerable body 
of systematised knowledge had been intruded into the 
scholastic discipline from an extra-scholastic source. 
But since the relation of mastery and subservience is 
ceasing to be the dominant and formative factor in the 
community's life process, other features of the life 
process and other points of view are forcing themselves 
upon the scholars. 

The Higher Learning 

The true-bred gentleman of leisure should, and does, 
see the world from the point of view of the personal 
relation ; and the cognitive interest, so far as it asserts 
itself in him, should seek to systematise phenomena 
on this basis. Such indeed is the case with the gentleman 
of the old school, in whom the leisure-class ideals have 
suffered no disintegration ; and such is the attitude of 
his latter-day descendant, in so far as he has fallen 
heir to the full complement of upper-class virtues. But 
the ways of heredity are devious, and not every gentle- 
man's son is % to the manor born. Especially is the 
transmission of the habits of thought which charac- 
terise the predatory master somewhat precarious in the 
case of a line of descent in which but one or two of 
the latest steps have lain within the leisure-class disci- 
pline. The chances of occurrence of a strong congenital 
or acquired bent towards the exercise of the cognitive 
aptitudes are apparently best in those members of the 
leisure class who are of lower-class or middle-class 
antecedents, that is to say, those who have inherited 
the complement of aptitudes proper to the industrious 
classes, and who owe their place in the leisure class to 
the possession of qualities which count for more to-day 
than they did in the times when the leisure-class 
scheme of life took shape. But even outside the range 
of these later accessions to the leisure class there are 
an appreciable number of individuals in whom the 
invidious interest is not sufficiently dominant to shape 
their theoretical views, and in whom the proclivity to 
theory is sufficiently strong to lead them into the 
scientific quest. 

386 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

The higher learning owes the intrusion of the sci- 
ences in part to these aberrant scions of the leisure 
class, who have come under the dominant influence of 
the latter-day tradition of impersonal relation and who 
have inherited a complement of human aptitudes differ- 
ing in certain salient features from the temperament 
which is characteristic of the regime of status. But it 
owes the presence of this alien body of scientific know- 
ledge also in part, and in a higher degree, to members 
of the industrious classes who have been in sufficiently 
easy circumstances to turn their attention to other in- 
terests than that of finding daily sustenance, and whose 
inherited aptitudes run back of the regime of status in 
the respect that the invidious and anthropomorphic 
point of view does not dominate their intellectual pro- 
cesses. As between these two groups, which approxi- 
mately comprise the effective force of scientific progress, 
it is the latter that has contributed the most. And with 
respect to both it seems to be true that they are not so 
much the source as the vehicle, or at the most they are 
the instrument of commutation, by which the habits of 
thought enforced upon the community, through contact 
with its environment under the exigencies of modern 
associated life and the mechanical industries, are turned 
to account for theoretical knowledge. 

Science, in the sense of an articulate recognition of 
causal sequence in phenomena, whether physical or 
social, has been a feature of the Western culture only 
since the industrial process in the Western communities 
has come to be substantially a process of mechanical 
contrivances in which man's office is that of discrimina- 

The Higher Learning 387 

tion and valuation of material forces. Science has flour- 
ished somewhat in the same degree as the industrial 
life of the community has conformed to this pattern, 
and somewhat in the same degree as the industrial in- 
terest has dominated the community's life. And sci- 
ence, and scientific theory especially, has made headway 
in the several departments of human life and knowledge 
in proportion as each of these several departments has 
successively come into closer contact with the indus- 
trial process and the economic interest ; or perhaps 
it is truer to say, in proportion as each of them has 
successively escaped from the dominance of the con- 
ceptions of personal relation or status, and of the de- 
rivative canons of anthropomorphic fitness and honorific 

It is only as the exigencies of modern industrial life 
have enforced the recognition of causal sequence in the 
practical contact of mankind with their environment, 
that men have come to systematise the phenomena of 
this environment, and the facts of their own contact 
with it, in terms of causal sequence. So that while the 
higher learning in its best development, as the perfect 
flower of scholasticism and classicism, was a by-product 
of the priestly office and the life of leisure, so modern sci- 
ence may be said to be a by-product of the industrial 
process. Through these groups of men, then investi- 
gators, savants, scientists, inventors, speculators most 
of whom have done their most telling work outside the 
shelter of the schools, the habits of thought enforced 
by the modern industrial life have found coherent ex- 
pression and elaboration as a body of theoretical science 

388 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

having to do with the causal sequence of phenomena. 
And from this extra-scholastic field of scientific specu- 
lation, changes of method and purpose have from time 
to time been intruded into the scholastic discipline. 

In this connection it is to be remarked that there is 
a very perceptible difference of substance and purpose 
between the instruction offered in the primary and 
secondary schools, on the one hand, and in the higher 
seminaries of learning, on the other hand. The differ- 
ence in point of immediate practicality of the informa- 
tion imparted and of the proficiency acquired may be of 
some consequence and may merit the attention which 
it has from time to time received ; but there is a more 
substantial difference in the mental and spiritual bent 
which is favoured by the one and the other discipline. 
This divergent trend in discipline between the higher 
and the lower learning is especially noticeable as re- 
gards the primary education in its latest development 
in the advanced industrial communities. Here the in- 
struction is directed chiefly to proficiency or dexterity, 
intellectual and manual, in the apprehension and em- 
ployment of impersonal facts, in their causal rather 
than in their honorific incidence. It is true, under the 
traditions of the earlier days, when the primary educa- 
tion was also predominantly a leisure-class commodity, 
a free use is still made of emulation as a spur to dili- 
gence in the common run of primary schools ; but even 
this use of emulation as an expedient is visibly declin- 
ing in the primary grades of instruction in communities 
where the lower education is not under the guidance of 
the ecclesiastical or military tradition. All this holds 

The Higher Learning 389 

true in a peculiar degree, and more especially on the 
spiritual side, of such portions of the educational system 
as have been immediately affected by kindergarten 
methods and ideals. 

The peculiarly non-invidious trend of the kindergarten 
discipline, and the similar character of the kindergarten 
influence in primary education beyond the limits of 
the kindergarten proper, should be taken in connection 
with what has already been said of the peculiar spir- 
itual attitude of leisure-class womankind under the cir- 
cumstances of the modern economic situation. The 
kindergarten discipline is at its best or at its farthest 
remove from ancient patriarchal and pedagogical ideals 
in the advanced industrial communities, where there 
is a considerable body of intelligent and idle women, 
and where the system of status has somewhat abated in 
rigour under the disintegrating influence of industrial 
life and in the absence of a consistent body of military 
and ecclesiastical traditions. It is from these women 
in easy circumstances that it gets its moral support. 
The aims and methods of the kindergarten commend 
themselves with especial effect to this class of women 
who are ill at ease under the pecuniary code of repu- 
table life. The kindergarten, and whatever the kinder- 
garten spirit counts for in modern education, therefore, 
is to be set down, along with the " new-woman move- 
ment," to the account of that revulsion against futility 
and invidious comparison which the leisure-class life 
under modern circumstances induces in the women most 
immediately exposed to its discipline. In this way it 
appears that, by indirection, the institution of a leisure 

390 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

class here again favours the growth of a non-invidious 
attitude, which may, in the long run, prove a menace 
to the stability of the institution itself, and even to the 
institution of individual ownership on which it rests. 

During the recent past some tangible changes have 
taken place in the scope of college and university teach- 
ing. These changes have in the main consisted in a 
partial displacement of the humanities those branches 
of learning which are conceived to make for the tradi- 
tional " culture," character, tastes, and ideals by 
those more matter-of-fact branches which make for 
civic and industrial efficiency. To put the same thing 
in other words, those branches of knowledge which 
make for efficiency (ultimately productive efficiency) 
have gradually been gaining ground against those 
branches which make for a heightened consumption 
or a lowered industrial efficiency and for a type of 
character suited to the regime of status. In this adap- 
tation of the scheme of instruction the higher schools 
have commonly been found on the conservative side ; 
each step which they have taken in advance has been 
to some extent of the nature of a concession. The 
sciences have been intruded into the scholar's disci- 
pline from without, not to say from below. It is no- 
ticeable that the humanities which have so reluctantly 
yielded ground to the sciences are pretty uniformly 
adapted to shape the character of the student in accord- 
ance with a traditional self-centred scheme of con- 
sumption ; a scheme of contemplation and enjoyment 
of the true, the beautiful, and the good, according to a 

The Higher Learning 391 

conventional standard of propriety and excellence, the 
salient feature of which is leisure otium cum digni- 
tate. In language veiled by their own habituation to 
the archaic, decorous point of view, the spokesmen of 
the humanities have insisted upon the ideal embodied 
in the maxim, frugcs consumere nati. This attitude 
should occasion no surprise in the case of schools which 
are shaped by and rest upon a leisure-class culture. 

The professed grounds on which it has been sought, 
as far as might be, to maintain the received standards 
and methods of culture intact are likewise characteristic 
of the archaic temperament and of the leisure-class the- 
ory of life. The enjoyment and the bent derived from 
habitual contemplation of the life, ideals, speculations, 
and methods of consuming time and goods, in vogue 
among the leisure class of classical antiquity, for in- 
stance, is felt to be "higher," "nobler," "worthier," 
than what results in these respects from a like famili- 
arity with the everyday life and the knowledge and 
aspirations of commonplace humanity in a modern 
community. That learning the content of which is an 
unmitigated knowledge of latter-day men and things is 
by comparison "lower," "base," "ignoble," one even 
hears the epithet " sub-human " applied to this matter- 
of-fact knowledge of mankind and of everyday life. 

This contention of the leisure-class spokesmen of the 
humanities seems to be substantially sound. In point 
of substantial fact, the gratification and the culture, or 
the spiritual attitude or habit of mind, resulting from an 
habitual contemplation of the anthropomorphism, clan- 
nishness, and leisurely self-complacency of the gentle- 

392 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

man of an early day, or from a familiarity with the 
animistic superstitions and the exuberant truculence of 
the Homeric heroes, for instance, is, aesthetically con 
sidered, more legitimate than the corresponding results 
derived from a matter-of-fact knowledge of things and 
a contemplation of latter-day civic or workmanlike effi- 
ciency. There can be but little question that the first- 
named habits have the advantage in respect of aesthetic 
or honorific value, and therefore in respect of the 
" worth " which is made the basis of award in the com- 
parison. The content of the canons of taste, and 
more particularly of the canons of honour, is in the 
nature of things a resultant of the past life and circum- 
stances of the race, transmitted to the later generation 
by inheritance or by tradition ; and the fact that the 
protracted dominance of a predatory, leisure-class 
scheme of life has profoundly shaped the habit of mind 
and the point of view of the race in the past, is a suffi- 
cient basis for an aesthetically legitimate dominance of 
such a scheme of life in very much of what concerns 
matters of taste in the present. For the purpose in 
hand, canons of taste are race habits, acquired through 
a more or less protracted habituation to the approval or 
disapproval of the kind of things upon which a favoura- 
ble or unfavourable judgment of taste is passed. Other 
things being equal, the longer and more unbroken the 
habituation, the more legitimate is the canon of taste in 
question. All this seems to be even truer of judg- 
ments regarding worth or honour than of judgments of 
taste generally. 

But whatever may be the aesthetic legitimacy of the 

The Higher Learning 393 

derogatory judgment passed on the newer learning by 
the spokesmen of the humanities, and however sub- 
stantial may be the merits of the contention that the 
classic lore is worthier and results in a more truly 
human culture and character, it does not concern the 
question in hand. The question in hand is as to how 
far these branches of learning, and the point of view 
for which they stand in the educational system, help or 
hinder an efficient collective life under modern industrial 
circumstances, how far they further a more facile 
adaptation to the economic situation of to-day. The 
question is an economic, not an aesthetic one ; and the 
leisure-class standards of learning which find expression 
in the deprecatory attitude of the higher schools towards 
matter-of-fact knowledge are, for the present purpose, 
to be valued from this point of view only. For this 
purpose the use of such epithets as "noble," "base," 
"higher," "lower," etc., is significant only as showing 
the animus and the point of view of the disputants ; 
whether they contend for the worthiness of the new 
or of the old. All these epithets are honorific or 
humilific terms; that is to say, they are terms of 
invidious comparison, which in the last analysis fall 
under the category of the reputable or the disrepu- 
table ; that is, they belong within the range of ideas 
that characterises the scheme of life of the regime of 
status ; that is, they are in substance an expression of 
sportsmanship of the predatory and animistic habit 
of mind ; that is, they indicate an archaic point of view 
and theory of life, which may fit the predatory stage of 
culture and of economic organisation from which they 

394 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

have sprung, but which are, from the point of view of 
economic efficiency in the broader sense, disserviceable 

The classics, and their position of prerogative in the 
scheme of education to which the higher seminaries of 
learning cling with such a fond predilection, serve to 
shape the intellectual attitude and lower the economic 
efficiency of the new learned generation. They do this 
not only by holding up an archaic ideal of manhood, but 
also by the discrimination which they inculcate with 
respect to the reputable and the disreputable in know- 
ledge. This result is accomplished in two ways: (i) by 
inspiring an habitual aversion to what is merely useful, 
as contrasted with what is merely honorific in learning, 
and so shaping the tastes of the novice that he comes 
in good faith to find gratification of his tastes solely, or 
almost solely, in such exercise of the intellect as nor- 
mally results in no industrial or social gain ; and (2) by 
consuming the learner's time and effort in acquiring 
knowledge which is of no use, except in so far as this 
learning has by convention become incorporated into 
the sum of learning required of the scholar, and has 
thereby affected the terminology and diction employed 
in the useful branches of knowledge. Except for this 
terminological difficulty which is itself a consequence 
of the vogue of the classics in the past a knowledge 
of the ancient languages, for instance, would have no 
practical bearing for any scientist or any scholar not 
engaged on work primarily of a linguistic character. 
Of course all this has nothing to say as to the cultural 
value of the classics, nor is there any intention to dis- 

The Higher Learning 395 

parage the discipline of the classics or the bent which 
their study gives to the student. That bent seems to 
be of an economically disserviceable kind, but this fact 
somewhat notorious indeed need disturb no one 
who has the good fortune to find comfort and strength 
in the classical lore. The fact that classical learning 
acts to derange the learner's workmanlike aptitudes 
should fall lightly upon the apprehension of those who 
hold workmanship of small account in comparison with 
the cultivation of decorous ideals : 

lam fides et pax et honos pudorque 
Priscus et neglecta redire virtus 

Owing to the circumstance that this knowledge has 
become part of the elementary requirements in our 
system of education, the ability to use and to under- 
stand certain of the dead languages of southern Europe 
is not only gratifying to the person who finds occasion to 
parade his accomplishments in this respect, but the evi- 
dence of such knowledge serves at the same time to recom- 
mend any savant to his audience, both lay and learned. 
It is currently expected that a certain number of years 
shall have been spent in acquiring this substantially use- 
less information, and its absence creates a presumption 
of hasty and precarious learning, as well as of a vulgar 
practicality that is equally obnoxious to the conventional 
standards of sound scholarship and intellectual force. 

The case is analogous to what happens in the purchase 
of any article of consumption by a purchaser who is not 
an expert judge of materials or of workmanship. He 
makes his estimate of the value of the article chiefly on 

396 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

the ground of the apparent expensiveness of the finish 
of those decorative parts and features which have no 
immediate relation to the intrinsic usefulness of the 
article ; the presumption being that some sort of ill- 
defined proportion subsists between the substantial 
value of the article and the expense of adornment 
added in order to sell it. The presumption that there 
can ordinarily be no sound scholarship where a know- 
ledge of the classics and humanities is wanting leads to 
a conspicuous waste of time and labour on the part of 
the general body of students in acquiring such know- 
ledge. The conventional insistence on a modicum of 
conspicuous waste as an incident of all reputable schol- 
arship has affected our canons of taste and of service- 
ability in matters of scholarship in much the same way 
as the same principle has influenced our judgment of 
the serviceability of manufactured goods. 

It is true, since conspicuous consumption has gained 
more and more on conspicuous leisure as a means of 
repute, the acquisition of the dead languages is no 
longer so imperative a requirement as it once was, and 
its talismanic virtue as a voucher of scholarship has suf- 
fered a concomitant impairment. But while this is 
true, it is also true that the classics have scarcely lost 
in absolute value as a voucher of scholastic respecta- 
bility, since for this purpose it is only necessary that 
the scholar should be able to put in evidence some 
learning which is conventionally recognised as evidence 
of wasted time ; and the classics lend themselves with 
great facility to this use. Indeed, there can be little 
doubt that it is their utility as evidence of wasted time 

The Higher Learning 397 

and effort, and hence of the pecuniary strength neces- 
sary in order to afford this waste, that has secured to 
the classics their position of prerogative in the scheme 
of the higher learning, and has led to their being es- 
teemed the most honorific of all learning. They serve 
the decorative ends of leisure-class learning better than 
any other body of knowledge, and hence they are an 
effective means of reputability. 

In this respect the classics have until lately had 
scarcely a rival. They still have no dangerous rival 
on the continent of Europe, but lately, since college 
athletics have won their way into a recognised standing 
as an accredited field of scholarly accomplishment, this 
latter branch of learning if athletics may be freely 
classed as learning has become a rival of the classics 
for the primacy in leisure-class education in American 
and English schools. Athletics have an obvious advan- 
tage over the classics for the purpose of leisure-class 
learning, since success as an athlete presumes, not 
only a waste of time, but also a waste of money, as well 
as the possession of certain highly unindustrial archaic 
traits of character and temperament. In the German 
universities the place of athletics and Greek-letter fra- 
ternities, as a leisure-class scholarly occupation, has in 
some measure been supplied by a skilled and graded 
inebriety and a perfunctory duelling. 

The leisure class and its standards of virtue archa- 
ism and waste can scarcely have been concerned in 
the introduction of the classics into the scheme of the 
higher learning; but the tenacious retention of the 
classics by the higher schools, and the high degree of 

398 The Theory of the Leisure Class 

reputability which still attaches to them, are no doubt 
due to their conforming so closely to the requirements 
of archaism and waste. 

" Classic " always carries this connotation of wasteful 
and archaic, whether it is used to denote the dead lan- 
guages or the obsolete or obsolescent forms of thought 
and diction in the living language, or to denote other 
items of scholarly activity or apparatus to which it is 
applied with less aptness. So the archaic idiom of the 
English language is spoken of as " classic " English. 
Its use is imperative in all speaking and writing upon 
serious topics, and a facile use of it lends dignity to 
even the most commonplace and trivial string of talk. 
The newest form of English diction is of course never 
written ; the sense of that leisure-class propriety which 
requires archaism in speech is present even in the most 
illiterate or sensational writers in sufficient force to 
prevent such a lapse. On the other hand, the highest 
and most conventionalised style of archaic diction is 
quite characteristically properly employed only in 
communications between an anthropomorphic divinity 
and his subjects. Midway between these extremes lies 
the everyday speech of leisure-class conversation and 

Elegant diction, whether in writing or speaking, is an 
effective means of reputability. It is of moment to 
know with some precision what is the degree of archa- 
ism conventionally required in speaking on any given 
topic. Usage differs appreciably from the pulpit to the 
market-place; the latter, as might be expected, admits 
the use of relatively new and effective words and turns 

The Higher Learning 399 

of expression, even by fastidious persons. A discrimi- 
nate avoidance of neologisms is honorific, not only be- 
cause it argues that time has been wasted in acquiring 
the obsolescent habit of speech, but also as showing 
that the speaker has from infancy habitually associated 
with persons who have been familiar with the obsoles- 
cent idiom. It thereby goes to show his leisure-class 
antecedents. Great purity of speech is presumptive evi- 
dence of several successive lives spent in other than 
vulgarly useful occupations; although its evidence is by 
no means entirely conclusive to this point. 

As felicitous an instance of futile classicism as can 
well be found, outside of the Far East, is the conven- 
tional spelling of the English language. A breach of 
the proprieties in spelling is extremely annoying and 
will discredit any writer in the eyes of all persons who 
are possessed of a developed sense of the true and 
beautiful. English orthography satisfies all the re- 
quirements of the canons of reputability under the law 
of conspicuous waste. It is archaic, cumbrous, and 
ineffective; its acquisition consumes much time and 
effort ; failure to acquire it is easy of detection. There- 
fore it is the first and readiest test of reputability in 
learning, and conformity to its ritual is indispensable 
to a blameless scholastic life. 

On this head of purity of speech, as at other points 
where a conventional usage rests on the canons of 
archaism and waste, the spokesmen for the usage in- 
stinctively take an apologetic attitude. It is contended, 
in substance, that a punctilious use of ancient and 
accredited locutions will serve to convey thought more 

4OO The Theory of the Leisure Class 

adequately and more precisely than would the straight- 
forward use of the latest form of spoken English ; 
whereas it is notorious that the ideas of to-day are 
effectively expressed in the slang of to-day. Classic 
speech has the honorific virtue of dignity ; it com- 
mands attention and respect as being the accredited 
method of communication under the leisure-class scheme 
of life, because it carries a pointed suggestion of the 
industrial exemption of the speaker. The advantage of 
the accredited locutions lies in their reputability ; they 
are reputable because they are cumbrous and out of 
date, and therefore argue waste of time and exemption 
from the use and the need of direct and forcible speech. 


(Prepared by H. P. Shilston) 

Ability to pay 57, 182 

.Esthetic nausea 178 

^Esthetic values .... 97, 150 

Ainu of Yezo 6 

American 3, 326 

American farmers and city cousins 87 

Andamans 6, 13 

Animism 283, 285, 288 

Apparel 172 

Archaic structures 7 

Archaic traits 212 

Architecture 154, 349 

Aristocratic virtues .... 236 

Artisan class 322 

Athletes and culture .... 297 
Athletics 258, 298, 397 

Banking 231 

Barbarian hunting .... 5, 14 
Barbarian leisure class . . . 3, 7 
Barbarian notions of animate . n 

Bazaars 300 

Beauty and fashion . . . . 177 

and taste 149 

and use 126-129 

economic ....... 151 

of forms 151 

Beliefs, economic use of ... 287 

Belief in luck 276 

Bequests 348 

Birth-rate 113 

Boys and fighting .... 250, 255 

Boys' brigades 255, 300 

Brahmin India i 

Bushmen 6 

Canons of taste 115 

Caps and gowns 372 

Captains of industry .... 230 

Cats 140 

Change and stability . . . 201, 202 
Charity 334 

Chase 41 

Cheapness 155, 169 

Church attendance 321 

City and country life .... 88 

Class distinctions 242 

Classics 394-397, 400 

College sports 378 

Connoisseur 74 

Conscience 221 

Conservation of archaic traits . 212 

Conservatism 188, 191 

Conspicuous consumption . . 68 

offsets to 9193 

Conspicuous leisure .... 35 

Conspicuous waste 166 

Corsets 172, 841 

Courtesy 52 

Cows and effect 134 

Creeds 302 

Devout observances .... 293 

Devoutness 318 

Dignity, derivation of .... 15 

of priestly office 315 

meaning of 15 

Dogs 141 

Dolicho-blond temperament . . 

133, 197, 225 

Domestic pets 139 

Domestic sphere 324 

Dram drinking 89 

Dress and taste 131 

Dress as an expression of pecu- 
niary culture 167 

Drunkenness 70 

Duels 249, 397 

Economic man 241 

Economic value of beliefs . . . 287 

Education and status . . . . 113 

Emulation and workmanship . . 16 

Emulation, pecuniary .... 22 





Eskimo 6 

Evolution, Social .... 188, 219 

assumption of 18 

contemporary ^215 

Exaltation of the defective . . 162 
Exclusiveness 87, 112 

Fashions 173 

seeming beauty of . . . . 177 

Feudal Europe i 

Feudal Japan i 

Finish in goods 158 

Gambling 276 

Gems 133 

Genteel folk 42, 76 

Gentle blood 55 

Girls 250, 251 

Good breeding, test of .... 51 
Guests 75 

Habits, change of 195 

of devout observance . . . 108 

of life 106, 221 

Habituation to love 109 

Hand-made goods 159 

Hawaian mantles 152 

Hereditary 215 

Higher learning 363 

Holidays 309 

Homeric times 54 

Honorific arts 17 

Horses 142-145 

Housewife, middle class ... 81 

Humanitarian work 316 

Humanities, the . . . 371, 380, 390 

Iceland 3 

Indicators, social . . . 288, 306, 356 
Industrial communities . . 631, 331 

Industrial efficiency 227 

Industrial exemption, and conser- 
vatism 188 

Industrial meaning of .... 10 
Industrial versus pecuniary . . 229 
Industry in primitive group . . 12 

indignity of ... 17, 18, 36, 37 
Insolation from neighbours 87, 112, 366 
Instability of predatory emulation 270 
Instinct of workmanship ... 16 

as offset to predatory ... 93 

Institutions .... 
Introductory .... 
Invidious, definition of . 


Kelmscott Press 162 

Kindergartens 389 

Knowledge of Unknowable . . 366 

Labour, division of 2, 4 

indignity of . . . 17,1836,37, 

Tabu on 41 

Lady-in-waiting 79 

Lawns 133 

Lawyers 231 

Leisure class, adaptability . . . 198 

women, ownership of ... 53 

best development .... i 

characteristic features ... 40 

complacency of 53 

condition of emergence of . . 7 

conspicuous 35 

definition of 43 

element of exploit .... 8 

entrance to 235, 236 

function of ownership . . . 211 

non-material products of . . 45 

occupation of 40 

secondary 112 

vicarious .... 59, 66, 81, 83 

Like master like man . . . . 243 

Loud dress 187 

Love of esteem 36 

of nature 139 

of romantic 109 

Luck, belief in 276 

Machine-made goods . . . . 159 

Maecenas relation 381 

Malthusian checks 113 

Manners 46 

Modern survivals of prowess . . 246 

Morris 162 

Negro and devout imagery 

125, 322, 326 

New Woman 356 

Non-invidious instinct .... 332 

North American tribes .... 4 

Novelty 153 



Occupations, non-industrial 
Ownership and leisure . . 

2, 3 


Patriotism 247 

Peaceable phase of culture ... 19 
Pecuniary canons of taste . . . 115 
Pecuniary culture and dress . . 167 
Pecuniary culture and learning . 363 
Pecuniary emulation .... 22 
Pecuniary worth versus industrial 

use 239 

Pecuniary standard of living . . 102 
Personal and honorific arts . . 18 

Philanthropy 234, 316 

Physiognomy and astuteness . 275 

Polynesian adzes 152 

Polynesian chiefs 42 

Polynesian islanders 3 

Praeternatural explanations . . 

281-283, 285 
Predatory habits, and barbarian 

group 14 

and emulation .... 16, 36 
and love of esteem .... 36 

attainment of 19 

dependence on industry . . 20 

Prescription 41, 105, 115 

Priestly class 182 

Priestly office 123 

Priesls 310, 312 

Printing trade 89 

Progress, and adaptation 191, 196, 203 

change of direction of ... 196 

Property, bases of esteem ... 29 

private 117 

subdivision of 35 

Prowess 246 

Public parks 135 

Pueblo ..... . . 6 

Quasi-peaceable stage 


Raffles 300 

Religion and morality (obedience 

to Decalogue) 320 

Reputability 105 

Reversion 197 

Ritual 368, 370 

Ruskin , 162 

Sacred buildings 
Sagas, Icelandic 

119, 1 20 

Savage groups 6 

Scepticism of legitimacy of emu- 
lation 340 

Scholarly pursuits 113 

Science and learning . . 383-384, 390 

Self-esteem 30 

Serviceability and beauty . . . 128 

Servants 58, 60 

Services 122, 307 

Settlements 339, 344 

Sex and industry 13 

Snobbery 51 

Social duties 94 

Social reform 339 

Sociability 334 

Spelling 399 

Spiritual, use of word . 20, 37, 85, 86 

Spiritual growth 254 

Sports 255, 270 

and arrested development . 265 
apologetic tone of .... 267 

college 378 

Standard of living 106 

Stimulants 70 

Styles 174 

Subservient habit of mind . . 196 
Survival of non-invidious in- 
stincts 332 

of prowess 246 

Sympathy 223 

Talisman 279 

Taste 115 

Temperaments 226, 238 

Theology 317 

Time, consumption of .... 43 

Todas 6 

Toughness 275 

Traits 212, 220 

Trophies 44 

Types 213-218 

Underfed classes 26, 243 

Uniforms 78 

University Settlements . 339, 341, 344 
Utility and beauty 127 

Valuations ........ 150 

Value of facts and change of norm 9 
Vicarious leisure 81, 83 



Walking- sticks 265 

War 281, 373 

War, class 247 

Waste 97 

Whatever is, is wrong .... 207 
Women, consumption of stimu- 
lants 71 

devout observances .... 323 

dress 171, 179 

figure 148 

industry 5 

learning 357 

non-invidious traits . . 338, 341 

position as index of culture . 353 

primitive group 13 

question 354 

rights 355 

sphere 354 

status 178 

Y. M. C. A.'s 
Y. P. C. E.'s 

299, 339 
299, 339 

Printed in the United States of America. 

/ T V HE following pages contain advertisements 
of Macmillan books by the same author 


An Analysis of the Phenomena, of Association 
and of Social Organization. 


Professor of Sociology in Columbia University, in the City of New YorK. 

8vo. Cloth. $3.00, 

"The book is especially valuable because of the clearness and fulness with 
which it discusses the psychical elements in social evolution. 

" Professor Giddings has done good service by his clear exposition of the pres- 
ent stage of sociology, and he has made a distinct and valuable contribution to the 
subject. The book is also timely, and will doubtless have wide reading and com- 
mand the attention of all students of the subject, not only because of Professor 
Giddings' acknowledged standing as a sociologist, but because of its intrinsic value. 
The style is particularly lucid, and the tone of the book is judicial throughout " 
The Bookman. 

" This is a book which has long been awaited with eager expectation by students 
of sociolbgy. We have a valuable treatise which will, we believe, for many years 
to come be the text-book on this subject. 

" Professor Giddings' work has in a high degree that most valuable character- 
istic of a contribution to human thought, suggestiveness. His discussion of the 
evolution of culture and tradition in his chapter on ' Demogenic Association ' is 
especially rich in suggestion. 

" Professor Giddings' book is highly stimulating. He is a vigorous thinker and 
a strong writer, and he has a broad knowledge of his subject and its various affilia- 
tions which is as refreshing as it is unusual in this day of scientific specialists and 
non-scientific sociologists. 

" The book is well indexed and is accompanied by a valuable classified bibliog- 
raphy, valuable, but by no means exhaustive." The New Unity. 

" The work is on an entirely new basis. There is nothing like it in literature. 
A glance at the table of contents will convince any one that it is a model of method. 
We feel convinced that as soon as it becomes known it will be accepted as an 
authority ; and its value, coining in all its completeness at this early stage of the 
study of this science, cannot be exaggerated." Minneapolis Tribune. 



A Syllabus of the Principles of Sociology. 



Professor of Sociology in Columbia University. 

With References to "The Principles of Sociology" by 
the same Author. 

Pamphlet Form. 8vo. 60 cents, 

" The Theory of Socialization " is intended for the use of college and 
university classes. This book and " The Principles of Sociology " 
together constitute a text-book for the advanced student of the subject. 
" The Theory of Socialization " presents the chief theoretical principles 
of sociology in a compact form and consecutive order, and illustrates 
many of them with new examples. The consciousness of kind is fully 
analyzed, and the modes of resemblance which underlie the conscious- 
ness of kind are described in detail. The reaction of the consciousness 
of kind upon the individualistic motives is explained, and it is shown 
that it is through the modification of individualistic motives by the 
consciousness of kind that the true social forces arise. The process by 
which these social forces are developed into an organized social control 
is fully treated, and a practical bearing is given to the whole philosophy 
of the subject by an examination of its relation to the democratic pro- 
gramme of liberty, equality, and fraternity. 



ioal I ibrar 

OCT06 1995 

OCT 03 1995 
Lvomedical Library 

?R "2 21: All 

000 699 673